Washington Writers' Publishing HouseWashington Writers' Publishing House

Margaret Weaver

Margaret Weaver is a native of Illinois. Now retired as a tree farmer (Maine) and English teacher (Maryland), she travels to Illinois and Alaska as a practicing grandmother. Her poems have appeared in Yankee, Poetry Northwest, Poet Lore, and other journals.

Poems from Escaping Words


When my pillow exploded, feathers everywhere,
I remembered gossips who told tales
about their neighbors. They had to catch
feathers let go on a windy hilltop,
stuff them all into sacks.
Tight seams and strong stitches may break.
They hold back stories when they’re new,
hide small secrets of pillow talk.
Single words leak out, then whole paragraphs
flood over streets and villages.
I can make do with what I have, gather
scraps of down and feathers, carry
the mess to the pillowman who will
take it under his wing and confine it
in blue-striped ticking, good as new.
Or I can throw it all in the air to float
with dandelion and cottonwood puffs.
Birds weave feathers into their nests,
fur, grass trimmings, hemlock twigs.
Decisions. Let the birds have it.
I’ll scatter feathers over the garden,
let each make a new life for itself
like a drop of water escaped from a dam,
like a word escaped, good or bad,
doing harm or not, as best it can.

Stranded Whales

Aground in shallows here, dark whales lie
above their limits, monstrous and serene.
Beneath faint breezes and the summer sky
they face high silent dunes and land unseen,
almost unmoving now. Their skin fades gray
while tide falls and wind dries flesh and sand.
Their wave-borne grace diminishes to sway
of fins and flukes. They’re alien to the end
though dimming eyes reflect us as they die.
We cannot understand what makes them dare
to deny tidal pulls. They seem to try
to change all natural laws of blood and air.
Still in our common pulse, we feel the curl,
the sigh of waves, and recognize our single world.


Margaret Weaver has found a narrow way that skirts sentimentality and touches sentiment with rare and refreshing honesty. There’s a lifetime of observing here, with no straining after effects, no high-flown indulgence of detached soul: “I reel {soul} / in daily to see if it’s grown, / the way I used to pull up radishes.”

Her 80-year old dancer remembers

flying wingless, poised
in that instant when anything is possible
before the solidity of landing
and the need to move first one foot,
then the other, always forward.

These poems celebrate both ends of that tension while deftly keeping their balance.
—Rod Jellema, poet and Professor Emeritus of the University of Maryland

Magic infuses both poems and the characters who inhabit them: a fortune teller generous with omens and spider plants, the woman in the doorway who casts no shadow as she lives among bees, barred owls and loons, her familiars; the Sufi hermit who solved the conundrum of the 100 walnuts; and the memories

of the father who,
with coarse linen thread,
a lump of beeswax, curved needle
and his worn sailor’s palm,
patched old canvas, made it seaworthy.
Now he lies deep, past any mending.

These are deep poems, the work of a mature, imaginative and wise poet.
—Elisavietta Ritchie, poet and story-teller

Comments are closed.