She Smiled Back

I looked up from reading poetry
to smile at a woman.

She smiled back and
I noticed, as she passed,

her crutches. When she returned
to have a drink with her partner

one elegant bare leg was missing
below the knee.

The Rose

She bends stiffly
from the waist, her

back straight, nose
touching the petals

of a peach-colored
rose. The elusive fragrance

will tell her if she'll live
another day.

The Sigh

An elbow of black root
has broken through a lush cushion

of moss. In the near distance the chick,
chick, chuckle of water as it scallops

the shore. Now that the heavy cloud
cover begins to part, a shiver rattles

a stand of angel's paintbrush, anticipating
the audible sigh of light.

- James Bertolino