golden locks rested on Elnora’s shoulders / how wild wind could bring a blue linen skirt to life / the fiddle Edward played cried out to her / carried over prairies / until its voice turned raspy / close-cut sleeves ripped at the seams / his arms clawed out and tasted the lick of summer’s freedom / fields where high school sweethearts now sneak to / creating a world of their own

A boulder jutted into the street / taking claim on the route to our parkland / a side crack held the ache of a crumbled soul / where grief spilled and her body laid on the cold stone / she slipped to dreamlands / curved backbone where we now stretch out, peering at night sky / will the rock soak in our cuts too?

A circus of hands laid a brick house / refuge for a Victorian family / a mansion that succumbed to the forest’s call / now, housing teenagers in search of what lays in abandoned ruins / crisp evening air spews goosebump raising howls / the earliest residents in town / washed away by folktales

Each spring earth reveals its ground is unchanged / the same dirt where my grandmother once walked / wildflowers who brushed her fingertips now caress my hands

All bridges lead to the Shell Rock River / even the ones that don’t follow its path / its scent catches one and drag them to its frothy roots / waves bound to burst with years of wishes thrown in I drive there today, just to toss in another

Kelli Lage lives in the Midwest countryside. Lage is currently earning her degree in Secondary English Education and works as a substitute teacher. Awards: Special Award for First-time Entrant, 2020, Iowa Poetry Association. Website: