Today I Saw a Snail, by Radiance Angelina Petro

Today I Saw a Snail
Radiance Angelina Petro


Walking the Lavender Trails
up to the Andorra Meadow Loop,
umbrella poplars broadening the day,
I grow accustomed to soft sounds,
and no sounds, and sounds that enter
my soul-shaped body.


chaos isn’t hounding my heels,
the devil isn’t making fires
in my bones, and I’ve wept enough
to put an end to tears, and when

I left the house,

I saw a snail raise its retractable horns,
and frogs lift their eyes in Wind Dance Pond,

and you and I are still alive,

and the day will not ask anymore of us
as we share our feathered lives, and turn
a little closer to one another.

How about we believe in the world again.








Five Little Poems of Death, by Radiance Angelina Petro

Five Little Poems of Death
Radiance Angelina Petro



Look around—say it:
“Death is here.” Nothing
better to strengthen
the heart. Make a gesture
as if in protest? Close the door
and find something to tie
it fast? Try untying the ribbon
from your hair. Death’s robes
are not folds of dark upon dark.
They are embroidered with roses,
and light as air.


During the night, death, like
the smell of bread and cornfields
loosens itself from the trees,
descends into the bright morning, gently
apologizes for any trouble it may have
caused, and then changes the fatiguing
mind and love’s special grief,
into its own nourishment
for the long journey home.


Death is homeless–
afoot in the world,
trying to missionize
anyone. A homeless
death is chaos, relentless
in trying to enter
our story, with the hope
that we are just as lost
as they are.


Be mindful, they say–missing the obvious–
an overture gone profoundly wrong.
Just know they have never left the city even once.
Death is in our skin, and whatever goes missing
when we focus the breath will return found–our love of stuff,
our local ancestry of what may have once been called home.


What have I done? This ecological truth,
the footprints, this damage control,
this ragged edge of being alive.
In some corner of myself the belligerent
wound will not scab—the debt I owe
to my children and grandchildren
beyond where I stand.







Leaning Towards the World, by Radiance Angelina Petro

Leaning Towards the World
Radiance Angelina Petro


God knows the very last evening–
the small, gold locket found
among the puff of feathers on the ground.
Say what you will leaning
towards the world—tragedy comes
unexpectedly confounding fact
and fantasy. And what’s inside
the locket that once made the bird
fly a little faster, will one day
become a weight too heavy to bear.






Grasp at Nothing, by Radiance Angelina Petro

Grasp at Nothing
Radiance Angelina Petro



Dying. This loosening
of tattered fabric.

Get honest.
Grasp at nothing.

Everyone knows the lie
and the last blink.

Turn around.
Something is coming.

Talk towards it.
Remember it too

is raw, panicked, looking
for truth.

Be direct. Reassure
them a new robe

is being woven,
and that the collective breath

of a world turned light,
is theirs forever.






Pockets Full of Rye, by Radiance Angelina Petro

Pockets Full of Rye
Radiance Angelina Petro



I’ve been a crooked man
and walked a crooked mile,
I’ve carried green and yellow baskets
and dropped love letters on my way,
I’ve lost shoes and fiddlesticks, and carried
pockets full of rye, I’ve climbed water spouts
over and over, I’ve tried to be a bird in the feather,
and my cupboards have all been bare,
and I’ve been both Tweedledum and Tweedledee
and recited poems for a one-person audience,
I’ve sat on tuffets and sat in corners,
and asked the rain to go away and come again
another day, and sometimes I still search
after silver bells and cockle shells,
I’ve had many a great fall, and I find myself
yet again, looking down over the edge of the wall.







Hidden Rings, by Radiance Angelina Petro

Hidden Rings
Radiance Angelina Petro


This enormous invisibility–
elaborate and uncompromising–
booming with ways of the living.

Every deep thing is, all along,
a conviction rooted in suffering–
a deathbed conversation
of the mostly given vision
of who we are and what
we will become.

Gut the fish. You won’t find
any hidden rings. Turn to the trees,
climb them and hide in
the hawk’s nest. If possible,
become a fledgling with every intention
of one day falling into flying
and riding the sky until you spot hope
from a mile away, trying to hide,
but unable. Then, if you can,
descend–take the wind with you,
open your talons. The fur will be
softer than you imagined.






Wrestling with Hope, by Radiance Angelina Petro

Wrestling with Hope
Radiance Angelina Petro


This ocean becomes a field,
that woman dies with a brown
wool scapular of Mary in her hands,
those tomato plants turn
spindly (that’s my fault),
no one solves the koan
of the deathbed,
I’m not sure what happens
to the big stories of the trees,
those children in the school yard
become invincible to sorrow,
people listening to the news
starve a little more,
everyone becomes an echo
of everyone else, and the silence
that follows holds
the bragging rights
of most wanted,
the new animals that appear
from the woods have no names,
and they intend to keep it that way,
every winnowing basket breaks
sending both wheat and chaff into the wind,
the sky turns into the world’s
Shroud of Turin.
How do I know these things?
I cut across the future
and ended up here,
and there’s so much more to tell–
so many things that will
bring joy to us all. But first–
I need to wrestle hope, I need to
try to pin it down, and we will fight
to the bitter end, and you can guess who wins.










The Growing Hunger Home, by Radiance Angelina Petro

The Growing Hunger Home
by Radiance Angelina Petro



The common answers
are appetite and the desire
to move. A little bit
of grace to eat forward,
a little bit of grace to experience
the pleasure of lifting a hammer
at least once, and driving
the nail into the connecting boards—the sound
clapping in your ear.

Turn the knob on the door
that appears in front of you,
watch as souls step unafraid
into the trustworthy current—this easing,
this softening. It’s OK
to love your moving body. Only
follow the growing hunger







A New Kind of Breathing, by Radiance Angelina Petro

A New Kind of Breathing
Radiance Angelina Petro



Some dying people have nothing they want
to say. They give full rein to wonder, to being
visited by a journey. Come what may,
they head out away from you
to where a road is ready to carry them
to largely untested views–where their inclinations
to seek a prize are left behind,
where the slowly distancing body settles
into a new kind of breathing,
where what you think you want them
to say becomes a dark forest you must both
pass through until, finally fully free,
a dozen wings grow from your newly
given forms, and one of you flies
into the earth, and the other lifts away
from the earth, and which one is which
doesn’t become clear until you both
find your way.






The Conjuring Chant, by Radiance Angelina Petro

The Conjuring Chant
Radiance Angelina Petro



When I was a little girl,
trying to be real,
the adults around me–
flattening the world–
could not slay wonder.
The sheer mystery
of even a handful
of fallen leaves,
or the spider web nearly
walked into—or even myself
making the soap dirty
with my hands just
before dinner after a day
of exploring the woods alone.
Because I knew enough
the anticipation of tomorrow’s dirt,
the fields, the creek, the stains
that will never wash away,
and the conjuring chant of
I will not be stopped.