Lisken Van Pelt Dus

Lisken Van Pelt Dus: The Most Magnificent Ice Sculpture, After The Dying

The Most Magnificent Ice Sculpture

It’s Thanksgiving
on an island
in the Pacific

and a white swan
is poised mid-takeoff
in the center

of a festive table
in the US Air Force base
officers’ club,

wings spreading
over every imaginable
meat and side dish

and condiment
and pie.
Local talent

plays Bach
on three violins
and the sky outside

is quiet
with no F15 fighters
flying today

over coral reefs
in the ocean.

Ice thawed
weighs the same
as it did frozen

but takes up
more space.
Soon maps

will be etched
with dotted lines
to show what used to be –

here been monsters
and islands
and swan.


After the Dying

Nothing but gray – crosshatched gray
earth, gray sky charred to the horizon
through gray-scale branches. Then comes

the rain, cupfuls in drops, and the rivers
reborn, soil learning again
to drink, violets rising to split gray

into green and purple. The ash trees
still stand bleak in their nakedness
but grass grows once more between them.

Soon a deer, who survived the fires
but lost her world to their darkening,
moves in, foraging, mouth open

to receive it – a banquet of color,
its light touch bathing her tongue.

Lisken Van Pelt Dus teaches writing, languages, and martial arts in western Massachusetts. Her award-winning poetry can be found in many print and online journals, such as Conduit, The South Carolina Review, and upstreet, as well as in her chapbook, Everywhere at Once (2009, Pudding House) and full-length book, What We’re Made Of (2016, Cherry Grove).