Morgan Grayce Willow


This morning my computer hiccupped
and I thought of you,
O god of communications.
you and your tricks – your fancy
backward, moonwalk motion –
and remembered breaking thermometers
when we were kids
to see the little beads of you
shifting shape all over the tabletop,
leaving your shiny residue
on our fingers.

Little did we know,
O bad boy among the gods,
just how dangerous you are,
whizzing around the sun,
flitting here and there,
carrying messages – rumors
more often than not –
pleading innocence
every time your news
vexes its receiver.
What have you ever cared
for truth?

Is it any wonder then,
that they put you in charge
of commerce? And thieves.
Perhaps exactly this – your comfort
in retrograde – qualifies you
to guide souls over
to the other side.

The Ampersand and the Zero

So, the Ampersand and the Zero
are out for a walk
on a windy April day.

Ampersand says to Zero:
Don’t you just love
the accumulation of leaves,
birch bark, feathers,
pine cones, tangles of hair,
stray threads,
and unused spider webs
collected there
along the woven-wire fence?
It could be a collage
or become a book
or fill up an ephemera pocket
at the back of your journal.

Zero replies:
Not so much.
I fault the fence.
Without it,
wind would have
swept it clean.
There would be nothing there
to block our view
of what is essential.

You can’t mean that,
says Ampersand to Zero.
Just look at the richness
of all those textures,
the softness of feather and hair,
the prickle of pine cone,
the network of lines left by pine needles.
Can’t you just feel the silkiness
of the curl of birch bark,
the light breath of the feather
against your cheek or finger tips,
the delicacy of the spider’s thread
as it dissolves when touched?

But, says Zero,
there’s so much smudge and dust.
Too many lines and shapes.
The purity and simplicity
are hidden, if not destroyed
by the too much.

And you, says Ampersand,
are overly devoted
to the too little.
Don’t you long for
something to embellish
that simple horizon line?
To feed the eye
curl and curve and angle,
not to say shape?
Is there no compromise
between muchness and littleness?

I think, replies Zero,
that we shall have to agree
to disagree.
My vision frightens you.
Your vision clouds mine.

But, interrupts Ampersand,
but . . .

replies Zero.
Enough said.


Morgan Grayce Willow has received a Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative grant for 2017 to complete her fourth poetry collection. Earlier titles include Dodge & Scramble, Between, Silk, The Maps are Words. An award-winning essayist, Morgan’s prose has appeared in Water~Stone Review, Imagination & Place: Cartography, the anthology Riding Shotgun: Women Write about Their Mothers, as well as BoomerLitMag, Fall 2015. Her interest in visual elements of poetry and book arts led to her to the Minnesota Center for Book Arts where she completed the core certificate and exhibited her one-of-a-kind artist’s book Collage for Mina Loy in 2016.