We drive Downeast 
leaving Atlantic salt 
for a freshwater lake 

I enter the shallow end 
with my legs close together and cover my thighs 
so they shrink 
behind the shadow 
of my hands. 

My mother is waiting for me among the loons and wild lilies, 

calling to me from this lake where she stood 
twenty-eight years ago 
and waded 
as I rocked inside of her. 

She draws me 
through weeds and ripples until I return 
to her side, unfolding 
my arms from my legs 

so we are both 
nestled by waves 
that rise and fall between us.

For All Her Hands Have Made

Let her be a woman, uninterrupted if she
gathers so-called weeds in her arms and
sour rhubarb for a Bible study cake. 

Let her home be this meadow, 
laced with Queen Annes that grace her
limbs with their tangled, velvet stalks. 

You might not see the crescent cut,
dug in her thumb from slicing butter
with an old knife, 

or how she ties her hair back 
to hide her charred glory 
after the paper lining of 
the cake caught fire. 

It could have been anything— 
an oven, a curling iron, a fireplace, a war zone, a sparkling forest. 

There is no fear, 
no fear in the blackened cake, 
sour rhubarb, or crescent cut. 

There will be many more, 
all the days of her wild, floured life.

After the Deer

When I return to the forest,
I no longer expect them. 

So much has already been said
of love in silence, 
of panting after springs. 

Tonight a deer might brush
its starry coat on birch 
before folding 
into the moss to sleep. 

I am there instead, 
awake beneath a web, 
sinking into green. 

I settle within 
the imagined imprint 
of that deer’s white stomach. 

My arms become damp,
bug-bitten things.

Nora Kirkham is a poet and fiction writer from Maine. She was raised in Japan, Australia, and Romania, and currently lives in Scotland where she is pursuing a Ph.D. in modern and contemporary literature at the University of Aberdeen. She has an M.Litt. in Theology and the Arts from the University of St Andrews and an M.A. in Creative Writing from University College Cork. Her writing features in Rock & Sling, Ruminate Magazine, Tokyo Poetry Journal, St Katherine Review, and Topology Magazine.