The first time she ate snow
She was forty-nine
Burrs in her heavy dark hair
Dusty as a horse’s hide
But beautiful

She strode out onto the plain
Crushing rock and exoskeletons
Beneath her boots
Her sights set firmly
On the lights in the northern sky

Her wild child curled within her bone cage
—a glowing coal—
Sleeping carelessly
Ready to spring up from the purple cushion
And sway to the beat

She relished the roll
Of whiskey on her tongue
That strut—blowing dust off her pool cue
To the jukebox
Thumbing through a lifetime of songs

When snow blotted out her vision
She ate her way through the blizzard
One faceted flake at a time
Drawing sustenance
For the journey

She picked her way along the seashore
Weighing her pockets with
Salt-encrusted stones
Footprints erased by the galloping tide
She knew the way home

Pressed her fingers to the glass
Feeling the sharpness of cold rain
The wind called at each corner
Of that solitary house
Wearing them smooth

The sweet curve of the bay
Cradled her gaze
Buoying up the storm clouds
And those sunsets to die for
Strut and retreat.




  1. Sunshine Jansen

    This gave me chills. Sometimes the burden of all the stories in a life are as heavy as those stones.

    1. Melissa Shaw-Smith Post author

      Sunshine, thanks for the lovely compliment. It’s always gratifying to hit upon a narrative that is both personal and universal.

    1. Melissa Shaw-Smith Post author

      We’re so lucky to have a spectacular backdrop to play out the drama of our lives. Thanks for reading and appreciating, Curt.

  2. Aquileana

    Stunning… Very nicely penned and I love the progression as it seems you tell us a whole story. Great ending as well.. Thanks Melissa! Have a wonderful weekend Best to you. Aquileana ⭐

    1. Melissa Shaw-Smith Post author

      Kind words indeed, Aquileana. I’m always happy when I can strike a chord with others.

    1. Melissa Shaw-Smith Post author

      Thanks, Ann. I forgot to caption the photo, but I took that shot last fall up in the Partry hills in Co. Mayo, Ireland. I don’t think I even did justice to the coloring of the peat bog with dramatic storm clouds in the background.

  3. charissagrace

    okay now I KNOW I am strange…cus for me this was like

    YEAHyah MELISSA!!! Bringing this grl HOME AGAIN…the deeper I read, the more familiar it got, and when she ate her way thru the blizzard I put aside my computer and put on Van Morrison’s “When Heart Is Open” and danced thru the entire long song…

    …and then finished reading.

    Ohhh…I think the only thing I could write her to even convey a tithe of my feelings as a result of this infection would be to swear in scatalogical sacred recitations that would please even Richard Pryor…

    This moved me nearly as much as that towering Thanksgiving poem of return that you penned months back.

    I literally and truly respect you…first as a human, then as a poet and creator of truth and beauty, and as a mentor of sorts to me in both those areas…and lastly but certainly not leastly, you show me the true paths of womanhood that have been there always as bones beneath whatever clothes times and customs might throw over them to conceal them.

    I am eager for eternity to manifest, when God’s city drops from the sky like Thunderbird to nestle us, incubate us and hatch us out…Ima be looking for you there, and we will walk Poetry’s own gardens, wander her fields, and oh the poems to know, the poems to say…
    ❤ this
    ❤ you

    1. Melissa Shaw-Smith Post author

      Blown away by your comments, Charissa Grace. It’s quite new and stunning to me to realize that I can touch people with words–share experiences. Doesn’t get better than that. You’re so kind for letting me know. All the best, and happy writing. – Melissa

  4. peakperspective

    Wow, Melissa. I think you captured the very essence of how I feel every time I’m walking along a stretch of wild and untamed coastline in the Western Highlands of Scotland or on one of the peat-bogged paths of the isles. I adore this poem and plan to keep it with me, in the lining of the coat pocket I always wear when going to these spots.
    I’ve got the best kind of chills–sourced from a truly moved heart.

  5. pearlz

    Reblogged this on Ripple Poetry and commented:
    Just love reading Melissa’s work.
    “Her wild child curled within her bone cage
    —a glowing coal—
    Sleeping carelessly” Thanks as always for sharing Melissa.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s