Cynthia Trenshaw – Five Poems

Ellen And The Full Moon

The full moon always sets at dawn.
To grasp just how that happens, I need
an orange and a tennis ball,
a flashlight and an extra hand,
and lots of time to work it out.

Last week Ellen died, gazing at the full moon’s setting.

In her waning, she waxed fully vital.
To grasp how that is possible, I’d need
a candle and a scrying ball,
perhaps a theologian and an oracle,
and lots of time to parse their explanations.

With her life nearing its horizon Ellen radiated
reverence for silence, awe, and endings.
She welcomed guests, and welcomed death as one of them
until at last, shining in her fullness,
she set with her beloved moon, at dawn.

Off Bourbon Street 

Gray stone walls hold a thousand months of sultry tales.
Dusty handmade bricks are held together by a dozen decades
of sweat and careful tuckpoint.
French Quarter’s signe distinctif is black wrought iron,
metal forged and conjured
into curled black flowers and iron vines
by spells that make those growing things
immobile for your pleasure.

Behind a certain tall wrought gate,
deep in a back street often overlooked,
the splash-and-echo of a hidden fountain beckons.
Sound grows sharper with your curiosity,
street sounds dampened by the passageway
whose job it is to escort you
from one existence to this other.

Earlier you thought you knew
where you were headed,
but The Quarter has a different plan
tucked up her Creole sleeve.
She has plucked you here to toy with you
in a      cumin
                                                     rum and fruit and mint
                                              ritual coitus,
deep inside that hidden fountained jardin.

Then without a single word of bien merci or aréwar,
and certainly no désolé,
she’ll toss you out again – bemused, confused,
amnesic and forever changed –
onto the sunlit avenue
from which she lured you.

Holy Hum

“There is a vibration,” we’re told
by physicists,
“there is a vibration that runs through
everything that is.”
I know that they speak true.
I’ve heard it.
They speak of “energy of atoms,”
“music of the spheres,”
“the is-ness of God.” But
I hear
more than that,
and less.
I hear
a holy hum
in rich earthy humus,
in fallible struggling humans
who at our best are humble
and humane.
The darkest of times
vibrate with
enLightened humor
when I need it most.
I hear
a throaty thunder,
an up-roar of laughter,
cosmic delight in
what might not
have been at all,
but is.
I hear
a hum, a hymn,
a divine chuckle,
the holy hum of Being
that has chosen

After The Ice Storm

Ecstasy of light:
oaks enchanted into opal
maples morphed to moonstone
every pebble twig and weed
swathed in glass.
Frozen sun shards pierce
this fragile world,
blind any blundering mortal
into bliss.

Physics Lesson

Like a kid I sit, kicking heels against
the metal sides of an examination table:
ker-thunk, ker-thunk, ker-thunk.
Impatient patient, waiting.

High in the clinic wall behind me
three small square windows line up
above the medical credentials and a
photo of the doctor’s family.

Angled windshield in the parking lot
catches a chunk of sunlight,
lobs it up against that wall where
one small window catches it,
gives it a shape with four equal sides,
tosses it gently onto the plain beige wall
in front of me.

Ker-thunk, ker-thunk, ker-thunk.
The second window catches light now –
two sun squares creep across the beige wall,
then a third appears as the first begins to fade.

Enchanted by the sun’s tutorial
on slowly turning earth,
I wonder why I am not gently whirled
off into space, or to the ceiling and those
three square windows.
But I’m connected by the grasp of living
earth securing me to table’s edge, anchoring
table to the floor, mooring building to its base.
In this moment, no matter what comes next,
there is nothing of importance in my world but
being gently bound to earth.


Author’s Statement on Beauty

Beauty is a verb. Beauty happens. It happens to humans in condensed haiku-like moments. Beauty requires that one of the senses pays exquisite attention with its own expertise. Then, for a few seconds, something seen or heard, scented or tasted, or touched, lodges somewhere between the navel and the heart. The breath catches, time stops, tears well up. Then time resumes, and with it comes the verdict: “Beautiful.”


Over a twenty-five year span Cynthia Trenshaw served as a hospital chaplain, a professional guardian, and a midwife to the dying. For five years she provided skilled massage therapy and compassionate presence to homeless people on the streets, under the viaducts, and in the shelters of San Francisco. Her first nonfiction book is Meeting in the Margins: An Invitation to Encounter Society’s Invisible People (She Writes Press, Berkeley), which won a 2018 Independent Publisher Book Award gold medal in the Social Issues/ Humanitarian category. Her poetry has been published in a variety of literary reviews, including “Maine Review”; “Main Street Rag”; and “Hospital Drive,” the University of Virginia’s School of Medicine Journal; as well as Yellow Chair Review’s 2016 anthology In the Words of Womyn International. Cynthia lives on Whidbey Island, a 40-mile-long/10-mile-wide place of beauty floating in the Salish Sea of Washington. There she serves as a Medical Advocate, writes poetry, and regularly posts essays from her website,