ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

 Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998


Poems by Patricia M. Phillips-Batoma

Boot tracks

My boots cut deep tracks where I have wandered
out for milk ahead of the plows, before it gets bad.

Raised patterns from ancient Spider Woman,
3-D hieroglyphs of Pharaonic mysteries,
in sharp relief as undulating whiteness
subdues suburban neatness.

Sleep tonight, tended by the soft tap, tap, tap
of snowflakes against the house, laying flake after
tiny flake into the interstices of our boldness.



Snow tonight

Snow and weather colder than Iceland
in January are now a memory.

Rain and a fifty-five degree temperature rise
have pulled the icy sheet off slumbering grass.

No comb has tackled the rusty leaf fragments
and dry pine needles that fleck the dark green
closely cropped blades.

Grass reclaims its place in a vast landscape
of endless flat rectangular spaces.

Along this road they fan out like so many
rugs for sale at some giant's carpet market.

Pine trees, free of crystals that dimmed their
evergreen, stand in clustered conversation.

A mica sky glints where moths have eaten holes
in the threadbare cloud cover of late afternoon.

Roads and sidewalks shine like a Dutch town
in morning, and cars are wet from road spray.

On the radio, talk of snow tonight.




Long ago, I lay down in a river bed
beneath the sand, mud, detritus,
and cool smooth river stones.

It was cold at first, but then I
became the cold, and the sound
of water soothed me to sleep.

For ages, light fluctuated with the
odors of the seasons, and their
distinctive songs flowed inside me.

Then the earth shifted, changing
the water's meandering path.
It was then I stood up to live.

A day will come when you seek me.
Come, plunge your toes past pebbles
and deep into the smooth squishy silt.


Patricia Phillips-Batoma is a French to English translator and a lecturer in the MA Program in Translation and Interpreting Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She earned her PhD in French literature at UIUC and her BA in French at Temple University in Philadelphia.

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