Ellen Stone

Pine Row Issue No. 9 Spring 2024 - Featured Poet



Snow pockets the yard, thin slashes. The way its covering

disappears just after filling in all the edges. No one swoons


over slush. I want to bake cake, warm whiskey. Wrap in wool.

Scrape golden fruit raw, fired with cinnamon until the air


is autumn again, apples mounding under trees, orchard

buzzing, yellow jacket-billow crazy-drunk with juice.


My uncles piling the truck until the tarp is a mountain.

Cinched tight, they drive away and then cider comes—


glass jugs for the fridge, barrels for the cellar so we can store

sweetness under wraps for days like this when all the luster


disappears, dull moss fleck beneath dirty grey as if we are all

thick sheep and need a scoop of sun to get us through.



 * * * * *


Ice out


There is a spot at the top of the hill

past the barn on the paved road


where you first see the mountain—

rising slate blue in morning sun.


A dip Dad would call a hollow

rests below in rust or olive grey.


The trees have not leafed out

so, the contours of the land splay


against the sky and I always think

it looks like the lap of a woman,


the curve where joints meet bone.

I have come home to see my father,


winter fading from the land by spells.

He builds the fire in the stove each day.


We drive the curved roads in silence

until he says there is where he hunted


all that country, how his friend Bill

shot the biggest coyote he ever saw


just up on the ridge right there. I listen,

remember mornings with him walking


through the trees until he found a rock

to lean against, uncapped the thermos,


listened to his hounds bay off the granite

cliffs. On the way back, we see the ice


retreat from all the ponds, a slow seep

as if each water body floated a pale


moon saucer that gradually disappeared—

winter dissolving right before our eyes.

About the poems:  as shared by the poet

These poems were written watching winter fade and remembering. Growing up surrounded by more land than people, I became accustomed to nature as teacher. I often start describing what I am seeing outside to understand what I am feeling inside. Loss is so powerful. I need the outside world to help me cope. My poems feel like a roadmap to emotion. I use writing to manage my journey through life and to discover where joy can come from, too. Those apples, my uncles, that cider, my father’s love of the hunt, the moon (which I always equate with my mother) in the ice on the spring ponds— all give me hope. 

Ellen Stone grew up on the north branch of the Susquehanna River in the Appalachian Mountains of rural Pennsylvania. She taught in Kansas and Michigan public schools for 35 years while raising three daughters with her husband. Ellen advises a poetry club at Community High School, co-hosts a monthly poetry series, Skazat!, and co-edits Public School Poetry in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Her poems have appeared recently or are forthcoming in Michigan Quarterly, Third Coast, Midwest Review, Cold Mountain Review, and About Place. She is the author of The Solid Living World (Michigan Writers’ Cooperative Press, 2013) and What Is in the Blood (Mayapple Press, 2020). Ellen’s poetry has been nominated for the Pushcart prize and Best of the Net. She will be a 2024 Writer in Residence at Good Hart Artist Residency.  www.ellenstone.org. 

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