Jayne Marek – Cascadian Nocturne

Marek LE P&W 5 Nov-Dec 2023

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14th Anniversary Edition, Live Encounters Poetry & Writing Volume Five Nov-Dec 2023.

Cascadian Nocturne, poems by Jayne Marek.

Cascadian Nocturne

Past midnight: an invisible world I step into
half-dressed. On a deck, a humid summer breeze
strokes my arm. The deodar cedar next door
and my Douglas-firs swing in the wind, exhale—
how much breath fills one back yard.

When sounds begin in the deodar—squeaks
as of a small wheel rubbing, then low snorts,
bubbly, grunting, two, three, like contented swine
amid cedar boughs—I hold my breath.

For long minutes I listen to private lives:
the tree holding its unseen passengers, the animals—
I think, a sow raccoon and her young—
who do not expect me to be eavesdropping
in the dark, adrift in evergreen scents,

astonished by the apprisals of the night.

Solo Dance


Alone, I leave my car
under parking-lot trees,
walk the aisle between bushes.
It’s mystery, as late light
drips from an alder twig
while crowds of leaves shimmer
as if a performance’s last notes
were spinning echoes
into the balconies
of velvet forest.


Woods open to a lake
with swimming area stitched
by a string of buoys. Sky
reflects in minuscule puckers,
the meniscus boots
of water striders. They skate
in random fits
then speed away. A handful
of shadows scatter coins
across the shallow bottom:


Along the edge of the lake,
prints four inches across,
an inch deep in sand.
Like blossoms, petals evenly spaced,
four shaping each circle. Rounds
within rounds. A solo dance.
The houselights of afternoon still on.
I stretch out my stride
to match the cougar’s,
my shoes three feet apart.

The Yoga of Orchids

for Hannah
Orchid buds, nearly transparent,
are like the eyelids of an infant,
a girl, sleeping in a crib.
Morning sun finds her room
and marvels at her, then spreads
its arms across the outdoors,
touching twig tips,
inviting orchids to bloom.
A birthday means the opening
of a new being.  No longer
waiting, nor simply part
of a mother, but another,
the young one comes to awareness,
her body folded, quiet,
breathing in, breathing out,
in a resting pose.
In gardens around the world,
orchid plants blossom
in dappled light.

The baby’s tiny hands
are like florets on a stem,
poised along a green path
into her parents’ hearts.
Now, she stretches
as if in sun salutation,
relaxes and reaches for her feet,
reclined butterfly.

When she is older,
she will move into the world
with all its colors,
following beauty
and its strong sibling, truth.
A white orchid holds up
the shape of two hands,
poised at heart center.

© Jayne Marek 

Jayne Marek has published writings and art photos in Rattle, Salamander, Bloodroot, One, Chestnut Review, Northwest Review, Spillway, Eclectica, Calyx, Catamaran, Women’s Studies Quarterly, Notre Dame Review, and elsewhere. Winner of the Bill Holm Witness poetry contest, she has been nominated for Best of the Net and Pushcart Prizes. Her six poetry collections include In and Out of Rough Water (2017) and The Tree Surgeon Dreams of Bowling (2018), with another book, Dusk-Voiced, due in 2023.

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