Michelle DiSarno

Pine Row Issue No. 7 Summer 2023 - Featured Poet

Ski Lifts in Retrospect

We were pre-dawn shades of gray those Sunday mornings, the first

customers giving life to the bagel store, gripping styrofoam cups,

playing out the ski slopes behind our half-closed eyes

on the long, chartered bus rides. I always insisted

on recording good, solid moments:


Ashley slipped, trying to mount the T-lift,

her chin kissing the metal bar. In laughter

we rolled and slapped the white, packed ground.


The lifts, relaxed and urging forward,

gave no indication of leaving something

behind. And what is the difference

between memory and dream now, years

after her death?


If, alternative to chairs there was the T-lift,

maybe there were other letters, too:


We were kids being pulled through the straight-aways

curled up in O-lift’s like tire-swings, or reclining

in the lower-case j’s, whose dots floated

and on a mild day you could hang your hat.

Then the ‘m’ camel rides

through a wintry desert of pine and snow-drift devils.


We were riding the alphabet and writing all over the mountain;

We spelled an unpronounceable utterance—the sound of holding

the dusk and the delicate angle of our faces

just before bursting into laughter. 


A sound we might have clenched in our teeth

as we tried to avoid slipping

off the sides where people don’t ski,

but where snow still drips down

the mountain, spilling towards

some vague gathering bottom.


* * * * * * *


Ode to Biking

All roads connect.

We move forward


by turning circles—

Wheels spin with


each thrust: to see

every beauty


in every light, I’d ride

from dawn til dusk


til out comes

another world


of sense and sound.

The ground passes


underneath: I need

this hum of motion,


I need my pulse

to quicken,


and the wind

to freshen me,


and the day

to kiss my face.

About the poems:  as shared by the poet

I wrote “Ski Lifts in Retrospect” about a late friend who passed away so long ago (and way too young), that it feels like another lifetime. The poem is about looking back with fondness from the complex perspective of loss. When the memory is so distant, it can seem like a dream. And if that’s the case, what would we change about how we remember? What would we hold onto differently? 

While much of what I write expresses the tensions we experience in life, I feel that we still need poetry that is plain and beautiful. “Ode to Biking,” is very simply about delight– of image, sound, and stanza– as well as the pure pleasure of riding a bike. And that’s it! It is important to keep writing these poems, to remind ourselves and our readers that we still may be surprised by joy. 

Michelle DiSarno was born and raised in New Jersey and has been a high school English teacher for the past 17 years. On the side, she is a family photographer who occasionally blogs at surprisedbyjoyphoto.com. Through writing, she likes to explore some of life's most profound tensions: delight & longing, grief & grace, joy & sorrow, faith & doubt. She is passionate about seeing and sharing beauty.  Her poetry has previously been featured in Fathom Magazine and The Platform Review. Most days, she’d rather be hiking.

-- now accepting submissions for the next issue -- 

© Pine Row Press | privacy policy