Mary Merlo resides in the midwestern state of Michigan where she enjoys all four seasons. A retired Human Resource Manager in the automotive industry, she finally has found time to pursue love of writing. She writes poetry, memoir and children’s picture books. Her work has been published in Water Music – Poetry Society of Michigan, Looking Back Magazine and will appear in the Spring 2018 edition of Peninsula Poets. She’s received awards from Detroit Working Writers for children’s stories and is pursuing publication. She enjoys time with family, especially grandchildren, a great source of inspiration for storytelling. She believes skills developed to write poetry provide an excellent basis for expanding creative interests in other literary genres.
The Knowing Hour
Awake in darkness, I hear mockingbirds
trill an endless mimic of blackbirds, orioles,
shrikes and jays from a perch high in the yard.
Nighttime not ended, morning not yet begun –
that hour before daybreak.
Stars suspended in a speckled sky outside
my window beckon me to wish. Half awake,
my inhibitions vanish, fantasies flourish.
Like an electrical impulse, a flash of clarity
surges to strike the core of my being, whispers
untold truths of the heart. I know my secrets.
Dawn approaches with a chorus of morning
songbirds. Like a curtain drawn, revelations dim
and dreams fade. First light coaxes consciousness,
awakens reality’s edge. Sunrise proclaims a new day,
but old shadows return, creep back to usual places.
Cowering, I scream --
but no sound comes out.
I seek escape as elephants
storm my deck with weight
enough to collapse
They push against glass,
grunt and growl, but the door
wall doesn’t shatter.
Feet stumble, I crawl upstairs
where none can reach me,
hide under the bed
so I won’t fall off the floor.
They rear up, raise trunks
and trumpet. White teeth
flash in place of ivory tusks.
Invisible barriers crash,
enable entry inside
my head where repressed
to be freed. Tenuous sanity
fails to suppress tangles
of anger, grief and fear.
They burst forth to flow
into tentacled rivers of rage
and trap me.
I drown in black tears pouring
down dark mirrors of my mind.
Books tossed on counter, table cluttered,
letters not opened, bills unpaid. Hungry
kids home from school, french fries
sizzle, dogs snooze nearby. Grease
ignites, sparks fly, curtains shrivel,
cedar shingles engulfed, house immersed
in flames. Help! Call 911.
Upstairs, downstairs, find the boys quick.
Smoke billows, sirens wail, red trucks
scream. Black hose unravels, water gushes,
yellow jackets aim, big boots scurry
to barricade street. Glass shatters,
wood burns, fire flies like the 4th of July.
Helicopter whop-whops overhead,
cameras roll. Heat rises, roof scorches,
then sags, crowd gasps. Fierce blaze dies
down, smolders, ignites again, consumes
remains. Hot-hued colors glow beneath
a moonless sky abandoned by stars.
Hours later, fireman digs deep in his coat
pocket, removes a squeaking hamster,
hands it to a child.
Shrieks of kee-kee-kee arise. black-feathered helmet turns, keen eyes spot quarry,
bullet-shaped body plummets.
Black squirrel scampers,
brown squirrel pauses,
a moment too long,
as hook-shaped talons snatch.
Food-chain creatures chatter, disturb
stillness of woods. Black squirrel
flattens against tree, tail drawn tightly
round body like a cloak to protect.
Pointed wings spread, soar to a perch,
razor-sharp beak tears, rips dinner
into silence. Red-stained plume ceases
its twitch, hangs like victory token.
The bird of prey will not finish eating
nor be distracted for hours.