by Lily Iona MacKenzie

Published in Issue No. 43 ~ December, 2000

Everything seems new against the fire that now lights
the world, blackbird not black
but blueish green, its feathers notes for a violin. Even sea shells
are pure color, the luminosity
of peach, gold, and sandstone holding shapes in constant
hunger. They sit on the bookcase, startled
by themselves, inhabited by ocean, the sky, knobby
protuberances reaching out
in all directions like spring. Oh, and the books, they too
have become more, gifts from friends, strangers, black letters
piling up on white shelves, pyres of ashes watching
themselves become meaning. All this
and the Sunday morning light no different
from any other Sunday, yet not
the same, filled with itself and flames
hovering at edges. We were created
from flame, flesh a second thought,
made from words now ashes filled
with blood, spirit. The levelers blink
at the day, protecting the window, glass holding
it all back. Without it there would be too much
to take in, an apocalypse of colors–purple, sage, forest
green, the peach of an ear drum, the swirling pastels
of the knee’s interior. All this.

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A Canadian by birth, a high school dropout, and a mother at 17, in her early years, Lily Iona MacKenzie supported herself as a stock girl in the Hudson’s Bay Company, as a long distance operator for the former Alberta Government Telephones, and as a secretary (Bechtel Corp sponsored her into the States). She also was a cocktail waitress at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco, briefly broke into the male-dominated world of the docks as a longshoreman (she was the first woman to work on the SF docks and almost got her legs broken), founded and managed a homeless shelter in Marin County, co-created THE STORY SHOPPE, a weekly radio program for children that aired on KTIM in Marin, and eventually earned two Master’s degrees (one in Creative writing and one in the Humanities). She has published reviews, interviews, short fiction, poetry, travel pieces, essays, and memoir in over 150 American and Canadian venues. Fling!, one of her novels, was published in July 2015 by Pen-L Publishing. Curva Peligrosa, another novel, will be published in 2017. Freefall: A Divine Comedy will be released in 2018. Her poetry collection All This was published in 2011. She taught writing at the University of San Francisco for over 30 years and was vice-president of USF's part-time faculty union. When she isn't writing, she paints and travels widely with her husband. Visit her blog at:

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