From Issue II (2017)  


Sound of Waves


Four shushes spaced to a 4/4 beat
two quarter notes, two eighth notes
and a rest at each measure’s end
my wife repeats again and again

to lull our swaddled son to sleep.
Supposedly the rhythm’s akin
to the original heart that swayed him
with its ocean thump, that ebb

and flood he emerged from unmoored
in both time and space. That seaward scrape!
By which, I mean, I too am now rocked
and reminded that though the heart works

unbidden, there is meaning in each beat
and in the choice we make to exhale
our warming breaths as prayer to place,
praise song to becoming.


Telling My Students About Hope


A bell struck hard
in cold, clear air

where the water ripples
and runs fast, I offer words

for their pockets like stones
that pull seaward, like the river

that seems to move in one
direction only. I tell them

hope is the work we do
without return.

Stephen Siperstein

Stephen Siperstein teaches English and environmental humanities at Choate Rosemary Hall in Wallingford, Connecticut, and co-leads the summer Environmental Literature Institute in Exeter, New Hampshire. His poetry and photography has appeared in saltfront, ISLE, and Poecology, and he is co-editor of Teaching Climate Change in the Humanities. He lives with his wife, Jemma, and their son, Nathaniel.