Erika Travis


“Untitled,” by Veronica Ortega

before evening comes

two golden-haired girls glide along the twilight
like fireflies flickering into sunset
memories of summer’s eternal days
wheels spinning, long threads of laughter
weaving a tapestry of brazen innocence
remnants of childhood still lingering
in the roundness of the cheeks
pink and bright with the exhilaration
of life and the cooling air of evening
they flit from bicycles to daisy chains
pausing only to inspect the roly-poly
Armadillidiidae that has wandered across
their path, now balled in self-defense
ignorant of its distress, still
they release it with care into the freshly cut
grass before taking off their shoes and
running barefoot through the crisp blades
across the still warm pavement mostly
avoiding the sprinklers timed to open
at the close of day, retrieving newly ripened
lemons to exchange for lemonade and stars


Grief floods over us
A force beyond control or contemplation
Overwhelming every attempt
To breathe
It comes in waves
Unexpected and unforeseeable

And we are unprepared
To do any more than survive
And then one day we notice
The waters have receded
And we’ve stopped drowning
In the river that remains

The pain burrows deep
Carving out canyons
Etching deeper and deeper
Incremental movements
Culminating in a chasm
Hollowed out in time and memory
Forever changed until
One day
It has become so deep
And wide and untamed
Tourists come and stand at
Its edges
To meet the sublime


This year’s pilgrimage requires
curving mountain roads
carving out the wilderness
into a lustral journey
for captives spurred by loss
and cavernous longing
seeking a cityless serenity.

Rushing winds sweep through
cautious hearts in the form of
lakeside breezes, and
tongues of fire devour
marshmallows, kindling,
and sorrows held too close.

Language unintelligible
whispers through the trees
as the bitter scent of coffee
mingles with pine and dirt
offering peace unsurpassable
excepting that wrapped in
black leather and red letters —
a gift unspeakable.

Erika J. Travis is a professor of English at California Baptist University who drinks in nature and coffee with great enthusiasm. Her poetry has been published in KAIROS Literary Magazine. She lives in Riverside, CA, with her husband and four (mostly) delightful children.