by Leslie Clark

It was she who taught me that words
have the power of flight.
Any time she was sitting still,
she held an open paperback,
its pages outstretched like
the wings of a gliding gull.
She’d tell me of the places
those books had taken her.
The upstairs shelves overflowed
with her literary journeys.

Even before I went to school,
I’d sample those travels for myself,
and soon was addicted
to the music of those winged words.
Books became the best of friends,
my greatest challenges,
my inspiration to make that music,
for myself, sing a message out.

While separated geographically,
weekly phone calls between Mom and me
always started with, “What are you reading?”
Though our tastes, in time, diverged,
we still shared our love of language.
And when my poetry and fiction
began to appear among the pages of
literary journals, she was my biggest fan
and most demanding critic.

She left this world too soon
with so many words yet to
be read and savored.
But every time I sit down
to create, her book-lover’s voice
is with me, to guide the choices
of those words that aspire to flight.

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01 Leslie Clark headshot for bioLeslie Clark retired from Cochise College in Arizona after 41 years of teaching, and now lives in Oceanside, CA. Her poetry and short fiction have been published in literary journals for many years, and her poetry chapbook, Cardiac Alert, was published by Finishing Line Press. Leslie is editor and publisher of an online poetry journal, which can be found at