Anne Hunley Trisler – Five Poems


Quiet now the honeyed song
from sweet dark lips, the body
scent that lingered days
has wisped into what was before.

With silver sacred symbols
around your waist, your arm, your neck,
away from me black cherry skin
that held all these, that drew me in.

No Indian raga at March’s end,
no rum and rain, never again
Masala, cloves or cardamom.

A Moment of Brilliance

At times, my mind
an open treasure chest
of images the pure pale
pink of dawn. The pen
whirls, magic words
dangle and sway,
diamonds on a silver chain.
I sparkle with dew and sun,
phrases come
in poofs of glitter.
My heart-voice sings
like sleigh bells that warm
the winter dark.
It is
a moment of brilliance,
to see
behind closed eyes
how bright
is everything.


Gone, her rainbow fire
smothered by a cloak of fright.
Smoky doubt has silenced her sun-lit song,
echo lingering but so soft, like last breath.
Once she threw her diamond light
over everything, flung herself into the golden luster
of each new morning, now she fears the passing days,
summer’s end where high school looms
at the edge of August’s fire like a monster
snapping through flames with a hungry mouth.

Tears fall to her rose-white legs,
as the car rolls toward the sparkling pool
full of unknown girls, she imagines them
sharp-toothed and leggy
bikini-proud, unsmiling
next to a waterfall she may as well drown in.
The sun, glittering in the water,
will give her no warmth.

Long ago, in another summer pool
she was a plump and freckled baby queen
with lively eyes, her bright chatter lit up the day.
Mothers of quieter children laughing, admiring,
watching to see what she’d do next.

She will not get out of the car,
I can’t, she says. I can’t get out.
She will stay where she is safe
where facing fears sounds easy,
a pretty idea, like a pink unicorn
still and waiting.

She can’t get out, how can she
but once her grandmother said
tears for the bedroom, strength for the world
once her aunt said all it takes is one small act
her mother says
when you don’t know what to do
then smile,
just smile.

And suddenly she is in the wind, walking,
grey-blue eyes darting, open, shining
cherry gold curls swirling around her,
she is smiling—at trees, at passing cars
at the sky, at long-haired strangers
a smile of fairies, crystals, blue sparks
silver-winged birds,

The Seamstress’s Mother

When I was young and went to have my dresses hemmed,
I’d slip away and down the hall to where she lay.
I pushed the door until I heard the whispered welcome
into quiet dim, where curtains hid the sun. But some got in,
and I could see her face like softened leather stretched
in wrinkled smile, the lasting sparse white strands of hair
that once were thick and pulled into a crown. 
She was thin as birch, dry and grooved as dying bark. I opened
up my plump cream fist when she reached out for me,
and closed my warmth around her cool, branchy fingers.
I did not feel where sigh of ending life met
full breath gust of starting out. 


He has stolen
her joy
but cannot feel
its lightness,
dandelion fluff
blown by
wish making children.

He gleams
with her joy
but doesn’t know
its power,
the way it soared,
one hundred
thousand starlings
in a purple sky.

Her joy spills
from his palms
like tiny green seeds,
scattering; suddenly
there are great swaths
of bluebells, spreading
on the woodland floor.


Author’s Statement on Beauty

There is beauty spilling over into so much of life–beauty in nature, in deep relationships, in solitude, in yearning, in heartbreak, in healing, in dark days and days radiant with joy and light. As a poet, I have an interest in seeking beauty everywhere, and I charge myself with infusing the beautiful into words, braiding it into rhythm and rhyme, and I strive to make choices with beauty in mind. I believe in the power of beauty in poetry that is carefully crafted, so that it rolls off the lips in lilt and song and invokes feelings in the people who read it. For to know you’ve written something that rings in someone else’s heart–there is immeasurable beauty in that.


Anne Hunley Trisler is a poet, musician, and songwriter whose work has appeared in The Sow’s Ear Poetry ReviewWild Goose Poetry Review, Glass Mountain, Dash Literary Journal, Black Fox Literary Magazine and elsewhere, and is forthcoming in Screamin’ Mamas and Bad Pony Magazine. A winner of the Margaret Artley Woodruff Award for Creative Writing for her poetry and an Eleanora Burke award for her creative nonfiction, she lives in Knoxville, Tennessee, where she is pursuing an MFA in Poetry at the University of Tennessee.