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Gretchen Fletcher 

We sat on cast-off kitchen chairs before
the furnace that warmed our house,
my father and I, at six o'clock
(long before my mother rose), 

he in threadbare flannel, I in blue chenille.
Robed philosophers, we stared into the mouth
of the inferno, questioning reality
and contemplating the possibility 

that other lifeforms might exist
in some cold corner of the universe.
Like Vulcan at his forge, he opened the door
of the furnace that warmed our house 

to add another shovelful of coal.
Sparks flared up and flew above the flames,
and the fire's light made his face glow
like that of a god. Copying him, 

I propped my feet on a cardboard box
and tipped my chair back on two legs,
loosening my attachment to the earth,
our cellar, and reality. "So, what do you think?" 

he'd ask. And, "Could it be?" Then
when we smelled Mother's bacon,
we put our chairs back on four legs
and returned to the reality of her kitchen. 

Now I've moved away from the house
warmed by the furnace. And he's dead.
I still don't know the answers, and I can't
put out the fire he stoked into sparks.



HOPE - Mardee Reed



Gretchen Fletcher 

Ozawa's mighty arms spread
a symphony across the lawn.
In waves, notes float out
from Shed light to heavy pines.
The Mahler melts and drips on me
like collected rain from maple
leaves after a passed storm,
and I lift my face to be washed.
Brass broader than the Berkshires
surrounds my blanket. I absorb it
through my pores, swallow passages
whole, inhale great gulps of notes deep
to a place where they grow and expand
like a balloon inside me that finally explodes,
and I become little pieces of light
that hang in the sky above the hills.

SKY DREAMING - Mardee Reed

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