Born into forests, rivers,
gray sky in her eyes.
She watches for heaven, a blue heron in mud;
she traces stars with tiny hands,
she looks inside apple blossoms and rhododendron flowers,
daffodils and azaleas, and they look back at her.
In a world of thin, glass mirrors, she becomes a girl
blocked from glimpses of blue mountains expanding
into nights cracked open—white streaks of stars.
Years teach her
to paint faraway skies onto her face,
blue eyelids outlined in thick black night and golden glitter,
bright wildflowers pressed against her lips.
When she pauses to look, her face becomes canvas.
She paints two thousand nights
before settling on looking only how she feels:
two parts trees, one part cloud and sun.
She leaves the mirrors
searches for recognition outside in
the backdrop of rain, tree, fern and stone.
The earth helps the woman.
The forest remembers her name, casts its green shadows onto her eyes.
She longs to become that
a face echoing cedar in rain.
Tani Arness grew up in the small town of Poulsbo, Washington. After travelling in her twenties through over 30 different countries, living in Seattle, Zimbabwe and rural Alaska, Tani settled in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Tani is currently the Principal of a high school. She strives to find a balance, living, writing and teaching while remaining dedicated to seeking the beauty and spirit in our migrations. A collection of her poems can be found in Tzimtzum: 5 contemporary poets lend us their hearts by Mercury Heartlink Press, 2013. Her poetry can also be found in numerous literary magazines including North American Review, Rhino, Adobe Walls, Rhino, bosque (the magazine), Malpais Review, Santa Clara Review, Red Rock Review, and Crab Orchard Review. Her website is: www.tani-arness.com