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Poetry By Ahrend Torrey


if when I walk to the cabinet
for shredded wheat and a bowl,

if while pouring milk, these are
the thoughts of God. And

some days how beautiful are
these thoughts, redbird perched

on a feeder, hummingbirds
swarmed around sugar waters.

Yet how dark when cancer strikes—
slowly killing her prey, or when

a car snaps the backbone
of a passenger. I think about God,

thinking out our lives, and I
wonder if perhaps out of love,

his thoughts permit our thoughts
to do the same for unknown

creatures on unknown planets,
or star rock? If we can think

long and hard and send them to
the kitchen for a box of shredded

wheat and a bowl? If we can
choose not to think about cancer,
or their cars snapping?




Everything on earth
has blossom:
A pale pink
or purple passionflower that
gives life to the hummingbird
or bee—
or as the bee
to the fuchsia—
or as the fuchsia
to the seed.

Even wolves
in their bloodstained fur
give life:
into necks and ribs,
tearing and pulling,
ripping down,
onto the ground—
yet out of the wolves
come blossom.

How could such viciousness bring virtue?

When vegetation is lost within
the stomach of the elk
or whitetail—
when the flourished life
of the forest floor
is no more—

Then out
of the wolves’ kill
sprout aspen….
Emerge the beavers, and
the cottonwood:
shrikes soar



There is never enough time, it seems,
to do everything desired. This world moves
like a swift gull overhead, as I sit
at the edge of this lake looking out.

I could run after heron and egret,
but what good would that serve? I could
chase after the peaceful swan,
but what purpose would she hold if I caught her?
I could exchange this gift of now for chasing,
but today

is a different kind of day. It reminds me
that chasing does not mean a better life.
It tells me, out in this field,
that I only have to lend my eye
to the mallard and muscovy to be prosperous.
That I only have to sit and let this monarch—
in this warm afternoon of spring— land
on my shoulder to be blessed. I’m learning
that a full life is not attained by doing. Sometimes
it’s attained by being.

Pull yourself from the busy world and sit with me.
Come, let us watch, as it flaps its wing and floats by!



I do not need to go to the pond: She is
in her white slacks and white button up,
with white apron. She pulls out a chair next to
us and sits with legs crossed at a table.

Her neck bows as she works—placing a
spoon on a layer of napkin, then a fork,
she takes one corner to the other, presses it
with her hand, rolls it precisely the same

way each time, then places it on a pile.
She pays no attention to any of us, not the busy
hostess on her phone, not the construction worker
who has come to feast at the buffet. She, is in

reverie, as if at the edge of her
own pond. She moves gracefully
to those eating behind her, she is preening her
wings—Oh, this waitress, this swan.



—for Nanny

When I was 10 I begged
my great-grandmother
to crochet me an afghan.
Not because I thought
they were comfortable,
but because I wanted
something to remember
her by. Now, that I am
32, the afghan so neatly
draped over my bed
reminds me of her every
morning: the way that she
sat in the old chair with
needle and thread; the
way that she pushed and
pulled her life into the
afghan, so that now she is
gone I feel her warm me—
when the night comes,
when the house gets cold
and I grab it, and cuddle up.


Poetry By A. Torrey

Ahrend Torrey is a poet and painter. He is a creative writing graduate from Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. When he is not writing or teaching English in New Orleans, he enjoys the simpler things in life, like walking around Bayou St. John with his partner, Jonathan, and their two rat terriers Dichter and Dova.







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Published inPoetry

One Comment

  1. Mandy Mandy

    The variety of birds in these poems caught my interest, and then imagine my surprise when the waitress, too, was a swan. 🙂 I like the gentleness and kindness behind these poems. I was very close to my grandparents, too, and I could especially relate to the poem about the afghan.

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