by Courtney Noster
I met your essence first
next to the pond
nestled in between the winding vine and that tree.
It was surprising when I saw it.
Warmth veined across my soma.
I reached to touch your banded feather
suspended there, deliberately it seemed.
All at once in that moment,
I was totally in love.
Caressed by the downy
of the winged-sublime,
Lifetimes of our acquaintance remembered
that early spring day.
I learned you next by sound
in the language of vibration
echoing from the hollows where you live.
I heard you calling in a lover’s song
a courtship duet across the creek.
While lake waves murmured in the distance
you were caterwauling with another,
crooning to the moon.
Your sounds were wild and playful, monkey-like
and I heard you wondering who’s cookin’ for who.
Serenaded by your forest vernacular,
I listened carefully
with ears as wide open as
your obsidian eyes.
Just as the sailor is evolved by the siren’s song
I was different when you stopped singing,
and I wondered when we’d meet again?
Until that sunny day in January
against a periwinkle sky.
When I finally came to know you again, by sight.
There you were sitting earnestly
in the center, a singing hollow
in an old Sycamore tree.
Gently atop of it all
in the middle of the crown spread
while crystal sunlight basked you
outlining your rounded head.
You were a vision
amongst the gleaming white, mottled branches
with which you effortlessly merged.
Even from far away, on the ground
I could see your steady ways.
Your head swishing softly one direction to the next
and I wondered what you could see.
Wondered if you saw me.
I stood quietly, dried leaves underfoot, in your presence until
an adoring observer with a long lens noticed me
She took your picture and showed me your features up close.
Your yellow beak and winking eye I’ll never forget.
Our spiritual acquaintance was forged.
That photo now adorns my nest, the place I call home
everytime I see it
I say thank you, gentle sentinel of the forest
for all the ways you are love.
Eastern ForktailLindsay Barba
Common MilkweedDelilah McCrea
Showy OrchisBill Newby
American Witch-hazelQuartez Harris
Common PawpawIsaiah Back-Gaal
Common Garter SnakeCait Young
Common DewberryPeter McWilliams
North American River OtterAnastasios Mihalopoulos
Winter FireflyIsaiah Hunt
Giant Leopard MothAlex Saba
Virginia BluebellsBronlynn Thurman
American RobinKari Gunter-Seymour
American CrowJason Harris
Eastern CottontailEros Livieratos
Bald-faced HornetKJ Ceranowski
Poverty OatgrassHaylee Schwenk
Song SparrowVirginia Konchan
Wood DuckDiana Lueptow
Japanese HoneysuckleShei Sanchez
Yellow BullheadTed Lardner
Funeral BellTishon Woolcock
Common DandelionCora Liderbach
Splendid Earth-Boring BeetleKortney Morrow
Snapping TurtleJessica Jewell
Poison IvyMarina Vladova
Pharaoh CicadaCathy Barber
Northern Dusky SlugRay McNiece
Big Brown BatSujata Lakhe
Barred OwlCourtney Noster
Long-eared OwlMichael Loderstedt
Isabella Tiger MothLeah Graham
American SycamoreMegan Lubey
Water Forget-Me-NotAlyssa Perry
Yellow-dusted Cream MothCass Penegor
Painted-cup PaintbrushHilary Plum
Masked BeesZach Savich
TrilliumKimberlee Medicine Horn Jackson
Eastern Tiger SwallowtailKira Preneta
Great Blue HeronDan Dorman
American SweetgumCaryl Pagel
Painted TurtleRebekah Ainsworth
Green DarnerMarion Boyer
American BeaverKatie Daley
Eastern Screech-OwlDr. R. Ray Gehani
Spring PeeperBarbara Sabol
Eastern Carpenter BeeSylvia Clark
Jacob's LadderRisha Nicole
Candleflame LichenClara Britton
Eastern NewtElizabeth Ryan
American BullfrogLaura Grace Weldon
American ChestnutCarrie George
American GoldfinchMarybeth Cieplinski
American Giant MillipedeMary Quade
American HornbeamJeff Gundy
American White WaterlilyGeoffry Polk
Artist’s BracketSusann Moeller
Banded Fishing SpiderCharlie Malone
Common Star-of-BethlehemBrita Alaburda
Common StonefliesKaren Schubert
Eastern ChipmunkNathan Kemp
Eastern Tent Caterpillar MothZachary Thomas
Eastern Red-backed SalamanderTovli Simiryan
Firefly BeetleJacquie Peoples Dukes
Gray CatbirdTheresa Brightman
Great MulleinLaurie Kincer
Green HeronPaula J. Lambert
Interrupted FernKathleen Cerveny
Meadow VoleRoberta Jupin
Monarch ButterflyDeborah Fleming
Pearl CrescentMonica Kaiser
Poison HemlockJon Conley
Red-Headed Ground BeetleBob King
Star JelliesCameron Gorman
Sugar MapleSteve Brightman
Turkey VultureAndrew Gilkey
White-footed MouseMichelle Bissell
White-tailed DeerBenjamin Rhodes
Wild CarrotJessica Jones
Traveling Stanzas community arts projects bring poetry to people’s everyday lives through innovative methods and digital platforms.