Carol L. Deering:
“Paper Birch,” “Angle of Incidence,”
and “Wind’s Apology”

Paper Birch

Its bark scrolls back,
baring a musical staff,
hem stitching, the hush
of paddle and canoe,
a jagged switchblade
the stutter of a code
we can’t quite fathom, trace
of wisdom, the paths
we could wander
if we dared find peace.


Angle of Incidence

Something’s off-balance
in the air, throbbing me

I spoke softly,
plain as day, yet we parted
lonesome as dusk. 

Silence occupied your ears.

Other eyes slid past me,
spent no notice,
or held so slow

I longed to disappear.

Little birds on roadside stalks
rise and shiver to a mist,
shying me to tears.


Wind’s Apology

Last night, and before, the wind
wrapped a ribbon around and
around our house, a noisy
process, rapping and wrapping.
Tonight it’s silent, and sleeping
is truly a gift. But, look!
Now it’s polished
obsidian. If you could run
your finger around the horizon,
it would sing like a bowl.


All three poems are from Havoc & Solace: Poems from the Inland West (Sastrugi Press 2018) and reprinted here with permission of the press. “Paper Birch” first published in The Kerf and “Angle of Incidence” in Algebra of Owls. Havoc & Solace is available for order from the publisher here and from Amazon here.


Carol L. Deering was born and grew up in New England but has lived well over half her life in the inland West, specifically western Wyoming, northern and southern Arizona, and east-of-the-Cascades Washington. The poems in her first book, Havoc & Solace: Poems from the Inland West (Sastrugi Press 2018) are inspired by these wild and rural lands, and her travels around, through, and between. They are, above all, poems of connection: animal, plant, rivers, people, rock, snow—nature and culture in many incarnations. Deering holds a BA in English from Springfield College and an MA in Librarianship & Information Management from the University of Denver. After a lifetime of library work, she has settled into full-time writing. She has twice received the Wyoming Arts Council Poetry Fellowship. Her poetry appears in online and traditional journals, such as The High Plains Register, Pinyon, Rio Grande Review, Prairie Wolf Press Review, and Owen Wister Review, and in the anthologies Ring of Fire: Writers of the Yellowstone Region (Rocky Mountain Press) and the recent Blood, Water, Wind & Stone: An Anthology of Wyoming Writers (Sastrugi Press). She and her husband live in Wyoming. Author photo by Carol L. Deering. For more information, visit her website.


Poet’s Note

“Paper Birch” came a bit from my years growing up in New England and a beautiful photo of the tree in an Alaskan journal. I sensed the layers we need to scroll back, in all the parts of our lives, as we continue to seek peace. “Angle of Incidence” acknowledges that relations with others can be difficult. We each see, hear, sense what we think we’re saying or hearing; but often that connection to another is lost. And silence looms in the air. It doesn’t take much (little birds) to startle us to tears. “Wind’s Apology” comes from where I live, Wyoming, where the wind loves to scour and whine. But there are a great many wonderful things about the state, like a great view of the sky, that make it worthwhile.

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