(listen to the poem, read by the author)
the shiny taste of rain when I inhale love leads us back to the things of this world the pink roses unfurl perfume the moon is a white lily about to bloom having a stroke erases half the world half your working body and your voice the owl in the willow is a ghost it calls to me through the open night window, calls to me in my dreams in smeared colors it sounds like windchimes my lips taste like lilies— the cold scent of rain on stones— a dark curtain embroidered with light the owl is a prophetess singing to me in my sleep the owl is a part of the willow tree is a part of my heart whispering you will recover fragrance of lilies in a glass vase the crabapple tree is dotted with pearls of rain my lips taste like water that is: they have no taste the rain has turned to snow it floats down in swirling spirals like falling into a dream the windchime speaks in the voice of god like a waterfall, fluid, like the song of a canyon wren tumbling down the canyon last night I dreamed I could walk again
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About the Author
Shanan Ballam is the Poet Laureate of Logan, Utah and a Senior Lecturer for the Utah State University English Department. She suffered a massive stroke in January 2022 which left her without speech and without the use of the entire right side of her body. She never quit writing poetry, and her collection of poems entitled “first poems after the stroke” was awarded an honorable mention in the Utah Original Writing Competition. Her poems appear in North American Review, Plume, and I-70 Review and are forthcoming in Sugar House Review.