Shirley Stephenson


There is a goat, a Volkswagon, and a heart suspended between things
that sting. There is a hatchet, just in case, and an anchor. Sun whelms the lake.
There is shelter. A woman cries in the front seat and outside the trees
flaunt their season, indifferent. The man says there are certainties.
There is a cat, a crown and a bus. We just have to find them.
He gives her miracles, pounded and glittering, wrapped in brown paper.
There is a long silver skirt but no breeze. A farmer mashing corn.
A rooster, running, probably from the bus. There is something that counts,
something with beads. It’s all fused together by the symbol of rescue,
of forfeit. A chalice, a breast, a beetle. There is a slinky fox,
an agreeable looking donkey, and a winged creature that could kill,
or save. There are eyes, some with stern brows, and a loud prayer at the center.
A stamp of authenticity and a nighttime patina. There are two more breasts,
making a total of three. And there is hope--this is all about hope,
and its crush. There are multiple serpents, or collapsed veins,
each tender and shiny as new leaves. There are people worshiping, or dying,
offering or clutching, it’s hard to tell. They are on their knees. Relief
and alarm cloud the view. There is a polished stone the color of climbing,
and buried inside, the texture of something sturdy that might hold them safe. 





Milagros, translated from Spanish, are miracles, or wonders. They are also metal charms that decorate various objects—most often crosses. Milagros, like wishes or prayers, range from simple to ornate. This poem began with a milagros cross I received as a gift.