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Breath & Shadow

Fall 2016 - Vol. 13, Issue 4

"The Girl" and "After The Long Dry Spell, New Dress"

written by

Rachael Z. Ikins

"The Girl"

Where is the laughing naked girl

draped on a log spontaneous spring

woods and trillium all around her for her lover's camera?


Who is this woman hungry just to see?

Cataracts, no vernal waterfall. What a choice, blindness or terror. Naked spring girl


knew nothing of these. This mirrored woman waist and breasts sagging slow, a melting candle, each new layered ripple


shocks. Eye-light flickers. Pain, stiffness.

Who is this solitary woman who thinks about marking time until death, wonders how to outsmart death even as she buries her mother?


I want the young girl back, her thoughtlessness, unselfconscious joy, unmarked by any urgency but orgasm. Her life trod a path, tragedy ahead of her, loss, betrayals, chances forfeit.


Yet she laughs. Look at the picture.


One arm flung back, palm open to collect whatever joy falls with the rain.


"After the Long Dry Spell, New Dress"

Last summer I rediscovered wild flowers.

Alfalfa, butter 'n eggs, milkweed, clovers of all sizes and sweetness, many spontaneous

bouquets dropped petals on my table.

All those years of drought and concrete.



This year I am the bud. I remember my love of swirly skirts, the kind when you twirl flows out from your waist. Old-fashioned, Fairy clothing. I always used to garden in embroidered cotton dresses, comfortable through heat waves and washable.


Long ago my lover would gift

me flowers, more fragrances, the better.

He would slide her hands up my calf's silk, tease dresses' hem, my thighs when I was lying in our hammock beneath blue spruce, sipping champagne, or reading.


There was always celebration;

a slender stem, a woman's

leg, the sculpting fingers of a lover defining it, firefly-lit dusk. White skirts glow in the

dark. Opening petals of some nocturnal luminous blossom.

Rachael Ikins is a 2016 Pushcart nominee and award winning poet and artist. Her artwork has appeared in one-woman and group exhibits in Lipe Art Park, Tech Garden and Syracuse galleries as well as from Hamilton to Albany and the NYS Fair. She has published 6 chapbooks and a novel, all with cover art by Rachael. Her new novel, Totems, is her first illustrated book. She has a B.S. from Syracuse University. Rachael is 2nd Vice President of the CNY Chapter of the National League of American Penwomen and credentialed in letters and arts and on the NLAPW publications committee. As well she belongs to Associated Artists of CNY and exhibits with the group in Manlius Library and Cooperstown, the Schweinfurth and Rome Art Associations. She lives in Baldwinsville NY with her dogs and cat, her salt water fish tank filled with magical creatures that glow in the dark and many plants and books.

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