PF detail from Pierre-Auguste Renoir - Beach Scene, Guernsey (Children by the Sea in Guernsey) - 1883;


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Kelly Cressio-Moeller’s poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Rattle, Melusine or Women in the 21st Century, the Aurorean, Switched-on Gutenberg, Margie: The American Journal of Poetry, and Remembering: An Anthology of Poems. In between visits from the Muse, Kelly enjoys reading, art history, painting, music, and indulging her weakness for fountain pens & ink. She lives and writes in Northern California.

Big Sur Retreat in Spring | Magnolia Soulangiana


Big Sur Retreat in Spring
                                                 for Amber Coverdale Sumrall

At this elevation, the Pacific does not roar. It shimmers – brushwork over a 
snare drum skin:  soft, persistent, rhythmic – an infinite pool fused with the horizon.

The water here, shot through with sunlight, changes from turquoise near the shore 
to cerulean where the whales wave their flukes then fathom deep into ultramarine.

          We could not be reached by email, phone, fax.

Santa Lucia, the patron saint of the blind, illuminates the darkness of her steep
canyons and jagged peaks with felted topography in emerald green and yellow chamise.

Conjure a condor and it will appear as a shaman, gliding on an invisible thermal,
courting the coastline like a lover – its majestic wingspan, a magician’s cape.

          We could not speak except to the black plumed quail.

Silver-white clusters of pampas grass sway in Greek chorus unison.  Sunswept
and glowing, they are smokeless bonfires in the mountains.

The sensuous limbed madrone, with strips of burnt sienna bark curling upward like 
coppered tongues, reveals grey-green growth underneath: a promise kept after the fires.

          I could not return until I retreated, nurturing my half-life whole.

A row of Italian cypresses take turns bowing their steepled tops in the wind, quiet
as vespertine monks in procession, walking to bell tolls on monastery grounds.

A peach dusk coats the throat of a birdsong sky with the thrum of thumb-sized bees.
The nightfall of stars is as brazen and fearless as the cliffs and ocean it canopies.

          I could disappear here. Ashes scattered to the wind. Returning to the sea.


Magnolia Soulangiana (saucer magnolia) 
"Staring at a tree, I felt the pulse of a stone." Theodore Roethke 

mistrustful of evergreens.
defined as deciduous was part of the appeal.
every living thing should shed their skin once a year.
one left in the back, nearly dead – perfect, i’ll take it.

sculptural as coral, judging by the photo.
slender bare branches promised to proffer dark purple
saucers of tea, goblets of port, depending on my mood.
if she were lipstick, i would name her violet empress.

she didn’t look like much. a few jaundiced ovals resembled
leaves. six years until she felt strong enough in smooth pewter
skin. long buds broke open in late winter, unexpectedly white
with pink veins, little scars, along tepals soft as well-worn suede.

to be transplanted, separated from everything you’ve known,
takes a healthy yawn of time to revive, recover, return to normal.
offer fertile ground warmed by morning light, roots will serpent
underground, search for water, take hold. find a way to thrive.