Transmigration of Souls

by Ellen Stone

after the composition by John Adams


Light off the swamp, even in December.

Tracks in the coyote snow.

Shale cliff edge, or rooted borrow.


Granny’s ghost at my shoulder

tsking at the whiskey in her cupboard.

She has been crossing the same threshold

at Christmas for twenty years.


Once a cherry table filled with goose,

duck, pies. Mother ferried the food in.

Grandpa’s visage at the head, Granny

clucking approval. Quiet dog underfoot.


Funny what death can bring,

us turning into the lost mother, caring

for ourselves. But who will be

the grandparents? Father left silent.


More howling now, less hymns.

Coyotes chanting, dogs chained.

Some things even Granny can’t foretell.

Ellen Stone teaches at Community High School in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Her poems have appeared lately in Passages North, The Collagist, The Citron Review and Fifth Wednesday. Michigan Writers’ Cooperative Press published Ellen’s chapbook, The Solid Living World. Her poetry has recently been nominated for a Pushcart prize and twice for Best of the Net.