Creek Bed Charms

baby mud violets
spring up
on the veins
of the riverbed
and glinting
sparks of
former lives

once, I was
a mage
a princess
a washerwoman
my hands cracked
with hot water
and lye

now I know nothing
but the weight of
lies and water

and the way spring
floods the world
only to recede
too quickly

wilting, wickedly

my hands gather up
those mud violets
and press them to my cheeks
my eyes

fingers to my lips
they say, don’t
ever, ever
let us die

as if the choice was mine

Gretchen Tessmer is a writer based in the U.S./Canadian borderlands. She writes both short fiction and poetry, with work appearing in Nature, Strange Horizons, Kaleidotrope, Cast of Wonders and The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, among other venues.  

Photo by Alp Duran on Unsplash

Creator Spotlight:

Gretchen Tessmer

Author of “Creek Bed Charms”

What inspired you to write this poem?

An early spring walk along the creek that cuts through the fields and meadows behind my house.

What do you hope readers take from this poem?

A few chills, maybe? A sense of magic in the natural world and in ourselves. And a reminder that life is fleeting.

To give other writers hope, would you mind sharing with us how many edits and/or submissions this poem has been through? 

In its current version, this poem sold on it’s first try, yay! HOWEVER (and this is definitely an all caps “however”), this is one of my oldest poems and has visited every magazine in existence (or thereabouts), in one form or another. The final line/sentiment has stayed consistent throughout the years but, as for the rest, I’ve tinkered and played with it endlessly – very pleased it’s finally found a home. And in such a wonderful venue. Apparently, 50th (more or less) time’s the charm 🙂

Recommend something to us! This could be a book, a short story, a video game, a project you’ve heard about, something you’re working on, etc. Anything that has you excited and that you want people to know about.

I’m completely obsessed with the new All Creatures Great and Small series on PBS/Channel 5, which has me rereading James Herriot’s book series as well. It’s all very positive and life-affirming, with a focus on small miracles and little moments in time filled with friendship and love. And there are fluffy creatures everywhere. Try it!

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