One sees in the work of nurse/poet Mary Jane Nealon the belief in all that is sacred.  She has the eye of a mystic and the voice of a neighbor.  We are so very pleased to present this poem as winter comes near.

And Then This Happened

By Mary Jane Nealon


It snowed, the deck chair was frozen to the wood,
branches broke free,
the black lab in the neighbor’s yard was whining,
no one home to let him in.

My dog was throwing her bone into the snow.
When she came in I wiped her down with a towel,
she shook the ice from her coat.
I was reading a book about god, thinking about the jesuit
who realized that if he looked long enough at a sunflower
he was transported to the divine.

And so I looked long and long into my dog’s right eye,
the deep brown one, the last one she closes at night.
While I was watching she reached her paw out,
(it is almost as large as my hand)
and she curled the rough pads inward, to hold on to the pulse
in my wrist, or maybe just to hold on to anything.

Somewhere outside, plows were tearing into the earth,
pushing snow to the side.
Somewhere outside we heard a Buck grunt
and crows, and an unlikely winter song bird.

Then this happened:
I was filled with bliss, the idea of apples, the idea of luck.
We dozed off together, in a curl of warm fur and skin.


Published, from a forthcoming collection currently titled Middleveld, with the poet’s permission.


Mary Jane Nealon, RN, MFA, is a poet and nonfiction writer living in Missoula, Montana.  Her collections Rogue Apostle and Immaculate Fuel were published by Four Way Books. She has been the recipient of a number of fellowships, including the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, and the Amy Lowell Poetry Traveling Scholarship.  Her memoir, Beautiful Unbroken: One Nurse’s Life, won the Bakeless Literary Prize and was published by Graywolf Press in 2011. She has served as the Director of Integration at Partnership Health Center in Missoula since 2006.

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  • Susan Caprio Maron December 15, 2012 at 7:58 am

    I love MaryJane’s poem “And Then This Happened”. SO inspiriationsl.