Thursday, June 02, 2022

Path of Stones

Margaret Coombs, Manitowoc, WI 
—Poetry by Margaret Coombs
—Photos by Margaret Coombs or
Courtesy of Public Domain

When forced into decisions
I relied upon intuition,
limited my choices to three,
collected rocks.

Walking in a park I’d think—
the next rock is option A—
and so forth. I held each
in my palm.

Did it warm? Was it rough?
Awkward? The one that curved
to me like a nuzzling
lover became my way forward.

That path of stones
led me out of a few impasses—
and straight into new ones.
But my life moved forward.
 —Public Domain Photo


How their heads stay free
to the breeze and their feet
stay stuck in silt.
Their gangling green legs
are always wading,
always wet.
They work underwater
reproducing rhizomes,
pushing out new clones.
Though they’re common as robins
where I live,
when I stroll the boardwalk
with my friend,
they loom over us
like a forest
of eight-foot blades.
—Public Domain Photo

It frightens me to peek in,
however intense the light
or precise the instruments used. 

I wish my mind’s habitat  
were an old-growth forest,
humid, and abundantly diverse.

It may soon be Pompeii,
an arrested tableau
calcified in place. 
—Photo by Margaret Coombs


We wore space suits
to our encounters—
the heavy, sixties version.

You fed me candy valentines
and heart-shaped chocolates.
I justified the occasional splurge.

Careless with my safety harness,
I fell a hundred thousand miles.

The web between us survived.
I felt it tug this morning.

A switch flipped,
disclosed a two-second message 
you wrote by hand
light years ago.
 —Public Domain Photo


We sit on a park bench
to contemplate the river,
silent, side-by-side, apart.

Young men in a crowded
Chevy pull into the parking lot,
radio bass fuzzy and throbbing

with earsplitting hip hop. I twist
around to catch the culprits. All three   
climb out, wearing pristine white

t-shirts, faces covered in surgical masks,
scrupulously quiet. As they silently traipse  
to the restroom, my pique melts.

Why resent another’s happiness?
Next time I’ll snuggle closer
to my husband on that bench.
Frog Swimming
—Photo by Margaret Coombs



Three jet skis float to the dock,
commanded by three bearded men
encased in black wet suits, their legs
spread in motorcycle-riding position.

The one with the longest beard belts out
Hooked On a Feeling, serenading
the sunshine. His grin and song waft
through the river’s narrow canyon.

From the waterside path my hips
feel his happiness. They want to swing
and sway behind the row of dour
fishermen, to signal to him my joy

in his joy, but I suppress it. This body
has seen too many years to bend.


Today’s LittleNip:

—Margaret Coombs

Commander—this rock and dust
don’t belong to you.
Commander—what’s that

you say? Speak up!
You’re stepping on my face!


Margaret Coombs (Peggy Turnbull) lives in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, on the shores of Lake Michigan. Her chapbook,
The Joy of Their Holiness, was published by Kelsay Books in 2020 under the name, Peggy Turnbull. (She recently changed her pen name to her birth name to honor the hopeful young writer she was as a child.) She also sent two of her own photos that express spring in Manitowoc County. Welcome to the Kitchen, Margaret (Peggy), and don’t be a stranger!

Tonight at 7pm in Davis, Poetry Night presents Wendah Alvarez plus open mic at John Natsoulas Gallery. Also tonight in Davis, starting at 7:30pm, SAYS (Sac. Area Youth Speaks) presents its SAYS Showcase: Hip Hop, Spoken Word, and Poetry, at the Monday Center, Vanderhoef Studio Theatre, UC Davis.  


Margaret Coombs

Photos in this column can be enlarged by
clicking on them once, then clicking on the x
in the top right corner to come back to Medusa.

Would you like to be a SnakePal?
All you have to do is send poetry and/or
photos and artwork to We post
work from all over the world—including
that which was previously published—
and collaborations are welcome.
Just remember:
the snakes of Medusa are always hungry—
for poetry, of course!
Life by Lake Michigan