In the winter evening when the sun pulls away,
we gather in our den, huddle under blankets
and dream by the only light— the hearth fire.
This beauty has milk skin. Her green eyes play
with yours from the movie screen. Her credits lead
to red carpet paths. Her hair— strands of fire.
The hunters gather with their finds at the cave.
They draw pictures on the walls. The prey will live
as long as men tell tall tales around the fire.
Droughts plague summer. In the heat of days
a careless camper releases the hounds
of hell and brave men leap in to fight fire.
Her back is bent to the shape of a table.
Her grasp of words and faces are fading.
As a teenager, she twirled batons of fire.
ELLEN PICKUS taught English and creative writing for thirty years on Long Island, where she lives with her husband and her son. Retired, she now conducts creative writing workshops for adults and does volunteer work at an elementary school. Her work has appeared in Long Island Quarterly, PPA Review, Fan Magazine, Midwest Poetry Review, The Avocet, Blue Unicorn and The Ghazal Page and in the anthology recently edited by Nassau poet laureate Gayl Teller, Toward Forgiveness. She won first place for her poetry at the Rockville Centre Guild for the Arts, the Plainview Y, the Performance Poets Association and the North Shore Land Alliance. She is selling her book of poetry, Bittersweet Is an Acquired Taste, to raise money to help fight Alzheimer’s, a disease that affected her mother.