All in by Beth Gordon

by Beth Gordon

This spring I am required to turn the tap left, ending the river of recycled 
tears, I am required to pray to living children, to their knees and small stomachs,
their throats and green toes, I am required to cover the witch’s well with cut cedar,
board it up with magic mirrors buried beneath the bones, I am required to float 
with  my grandson in sun-blue pool water, his unscarred skin so gentle a sponge for 
all things clean and in flight, his good hands in motion, his fingers antennae, his voice 
as deep as a baby bullfrog, creaky as a rusted bell, I am required to 
look into the face of my newborn grand daughter, her crystal ball eyes revealing 
her amber-scented future with 90 years of hurricane survival stories, 
not the weedy-trailed paths of the past, snakes tasting her heels as she passes, this spring 
I am required to take a lover, let something touch my skin that was born in floods
of blood and womb-water not wool-woven or cast iron, I am required to use 
my body, remove it from the cellar where it hides with canned okra, mulberry 
jam, I am required to drape it around my songs, I am required to pinch and be
pinched, to bruise, to slither, to goosebump, to wander with memories of tongues and teeth, 
to wallow in muddy creeks with tadpoles and crawfish, I am required to dry my-
self with forsythia and dandelion dust, until I am aglow with yellow.


Beth Gordon is a poet, mother and grandmother, currently landlocked in St. Louis, MO. Her poems have been published or are forthcoming in numerous journals including Into the Void, Noble/Gas, Five:2:One, Verity La, Califragile, Pretty Owl Poetry and Yes Poetry. Her chapbook, Morning Walk with Dead Possum, Breakfast and Parallel Universe will be published in May 2019 by AHC Press. She is also the Poetry Editor of Gone Lawn.

by Beth Gordon

Hungry for asparagus and honeysuckle, damaged forsythia,

the thick persistent dandelions which have also just arrived, we sit

on the unswept deck and drink the last of syrupy Christmas wine, 

ready for clear liquor and citrus, lemon or lime or tangerines,

for violets to emerge from the muddy ground, purple and naïve 

to our impatience, our forced hibernation, our weeks of unpredictable 

temperatures and hurricanes where there is no ocean.  

Mockingbirds repeat our hungry cadence and wait for baby 

foxes to respond, the white cat bathes in half-damp dirt, letting newborn 

field mice escape his precise claws, today is not a day for murder 

or lightning, he looks the other way because he knows where 

to find them in morning darkness, he will always find them no matter 

the season, the barometric pressure or category six tornadoes 

or possible ice in the first full days of May.

A train groans its winter song unaware that crows and lesser birds

are disoriented, dizzy with pollen, unable to mimic the sound 

of February frost, of legal gunfire, deadly force, of inconsolable

mothers, on this late April evening when the sun promises to bloom 

until midnight, swaddle us like abandoned babies on Viking ships, 

our sun-starved skin ready to shed, to metamorphose 

into living creatures who need no touch or care. 


Beth Gordon received her MFA from American University a long time ago and was not heard from again until 2017 when her poems began to appear in numerous journals including Into the Void, Outlook Springs, Verity La and After Happy Hour Review. Landlocked in St. Louis for 17 years, Beth has taught several local writing workshops, and is co-founder of a poetry reading series in Grafton, IL. She is also co-editor of Gone Lawn.