Paige Riehl

Night Sledding

She lingered there days
for the giddiness, sliding on sheets
of bleached white. At first she was afraid,
pressing her tingling legs
against the sleek, cool curves
underneath, her blood strumming songs
as she held on loosely.

She knew the ride would be steep and short,
dangerous even, the end shrouded in the fog.
But her heart was born again.
She was like a child;
her laughter cut the shadows.
She held on loosely and knew
she would ride again.

At times she flew in a mist
above her body, watching herself glide
as the fiery incense of pine kissed her parted
lips and musky fear whispered
secret poison in her ear.
Night welcomed her with lusty arms
beneath a flowering moon.

Still, she drank laughter like champagne,
let windy fingers tangle fistfulls of hair,
its teeth biting crimson moons
into her neck and face.
With closed eyes she shuddered
to a final stop,
snow spraying lightly.

The Search

We see you searching in lines like a grid,
desperately tramping the brown, dead grass.
We wave in the breeze, our slender, girl-like arms,
send the wind with directions.

This way; through the stubbled field
that bleeds like a man's face,
near the fence with barbed wire.
Your numbers grow smaller.

The sun traces a path for you until he is tired.
The time comes to sleep stiffly. We drop
our red leaves to keep her warm. The swallows
open their mouths and soar up and up.

The clouds gather to give her a drink.
You keep looking, on four-wheelers bouncing
the wrong way. She is not ours,
but we cradle her head with our roots.

Snow rolls in from the north
without blame
to drape world
and erase the stains

until spring.

Paige Riehl is a South Dakota native and current resident of Saint Paul. She is a Professor of English at Anoka Ramsey Community College in Coon Rapids, MN. Her poetry has been published in The North Coast Review, Red Weather, The Shining Times, and will be forthcoming in Poetry Motel.


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