Elizabeth J. Coleman

Rambling in a Time of Plague


I roam the hills

behind our Catskills Home,


find autumn plants

I’ve long ignored,

memorize their names—


lace-leaved goldenrod

wild bergamot

nodding ladies’ tresses

silver rod

rattlesnake root

hoary mountain mint—

sacred, like a Mass, or museum,


or the tiny wooden church

in Brittany where I felt

God’s presence, once.


Fifty years later, I returned.

It was made of stone.



Epiphany by a Small Cascade


You are not

an active volcano,


the ring of fire

of a tectonic plate.


You are not

as hot


as the surface of the sun:

not magma, not lava.


Yours is not

the power of


a mighty river.

No, your body is


a quiet place to rest,

not unlike


a mountain waterfall

that tumbles



over ancient rock.



The Japanese Maple  


In last night’s fire opal dream, I saw

the Japanese maple you nurtured from


a tiny being to one three times your size.

This afternoon, I noticed sitting there


an Eastern Meadowlark. Mornings I feel

like a pearl diver, discovering how


our maple tree will appear today.

In Autumn, it bursts into orange


like an earthquake’s aura.

In winter, it hides under the snow


like a galleon. Hummingbirds hover

in spring around it. And in summer


I sense from the window

a glow akin to the green of olivine.


The maple tree out our window

could be anywhere, but it’s chosen here:


our hamlet on a hill above

a creek flowing through mountains


that began life as a river delta

three hundred fifty million years ago.




BIO: I am the editor of Here: Poems for the Planet (Copper Canyon Press, 2019), and the author of two poetry collections: Proof (Spuyten Duyvil Press 2012), a University of Wisconsin Press prizes finalist, and The Fifth Generation (Spuyten Duyvil Press, 2016), and three chapbooks, and translated into French Lee Slonimsky’s sonnet collection, Pythagoras in Love/Pythagore, Amoureux, (Folded Word Press, 2016). My poems appear or are forthcoming in, among others, 32 Poems, American Religion (IU Press), Baltimore Review, Bellevue Literary Review, Colorado Review, and Rattle, and in several anthologies. My new collection was a finalist for the 2022 Cider Press Editors’ Book Prize and the 2023 Marsh Hawk Press Prize. I live with my husband in New York City and in the Catskill Forest Preserve.

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