Maggie Colvett

Critique of Plants


Blue dawn lingered late in the morning,

clinging to the west side of the house,


and just before noon you'd see the frost,

unchecked, had spread itself


across the brick like silver ivy,

branching into finely ordered filigrees


as if its ridges were the vesicles of leaves.

They weren't leaves, though,


and when the sun found it, the frost didn't act like ivy:

it wouldn't wither in branches


but dissolved from itself altogether:

not at all like a vine,


which will clutch its dead dry siphon

to a wall or a tree forever,


the frost renounced its clasping right away,

displacing all its color to the brick,


scattering its glitter through the grain,

bleeding deeper purple from the clay.

                 All Our Relations (quilt) | Cindy Rinne

                All Our Relations (quilt) | Cindy Rinne

Scops Owl in New York


You're a scops owl

so move as a scops owl:


being a quick and subtle thing,

a secret of no consequence,


a stranger among strangers,

you've nothing to fear.


Nothing here belongs to you,

and so there is no place that isn't yours:


if your eyes ache, find pockets of night

under plywood, sealed into hollowed-out corners,


or else by the warm inner seams

of winter hoods, mingled with the hair


of patient women. There is no end

of habitable spaces; any perch you see


is yours to hold. So go:

dine on mice or souvlaki,


hoot softly, or shriek,

or sing, or speak.


But watch out for that wind

that parts the buildings:


it'll snag you at your edges

where you're brittle as a nail,


it'll rip you like a flier or an old leaf

and scatter you straight to the ground.


Is that how you fell in this freezing puddle,

bristling under the streetlight,


every thread of your silhouette

lit like a trembling filament?


Well? Was it the wind?

Or did for a moment you feel yourself


feathers and claws,

and shudder,


and slip?



MAGGIE COLVETT edited volume 41 of The Mockingbird, the arts and literature magazine of East Tennessee State University. Her poems can be found in recent or upcoming editions of Hayden's Ferry Review, Colorado Review, and Architrave Press's broadside series, among other places. She lives in Athens, Georgia and Piney Flats, Tennessee, where her family keeps many dozens of chickens.