111 Fahrenheit by Suzy Jacobson Cherry

Walking through natural heat, searing like Heavenly Spirit, healing; pain, back
Asunder, spine rent by boot and steel, years gone by; she watches shadow as she goes,
Shadow-Women who she had been before; the many girls, chained
One to another, from burning child and tumbled youth to shattered girl-wife;
Where she lost her soul, nobody knows how shadows overcame the flame, the bruises
Nothing broke and he always missed the face, though stars twirled around her battered head,
She thought he could not break her dreams – she thought she’d left behind his mess, the anger
Fear, the Shadow-Girl, yet now this shadow before her screams accusation:
What of her hidden fears revealed themselves to her children,
Born so much later, she had thought them safe, yet they were not:
What of her brokenness became demons besetting those innocent;
What of her fears wormed their way into the nightmares of her offspring?
She had thought them safe. She had thought them free. Shadow-Woman tells otherwise
The breeze, convection oven hot blows, then stops, and when she stands in the unrelenting
Silence, she hears her children laughing, young again; yes, she had thought them safe, but
Shadow-Woman knows the broken spirits inherited unseen; she wonders if she kicks
Off sandals, softly, placing feet, toe to heel or heel to toe, would the memories, invisible
To all but Shadow=Woman/Shadow-girl, ignite, incendiary, burn to cinder, ash, and blow away?
Desert sun noon high, no shadow for a moment, she feels the kiss of sun, no shame or accusation,
Only unity, she, a whole woman, stands fearless; she walks head held high knowing
She did the best she could with what she had, yet walking westward now,
Shadow-Woman out of sight cannot be forgotten; she follows close, cannot be shaken,
Perpetual condemnation but a footstep away – turn fast – she is there, constant companion
Heat bakes away arthritic pain, but reminders, awakened now, remain, and
Broken children, no longer young, fight demons they did not invite


Suzy Jacobson Cherry lives and works in the Phoenix, Arizona metropolitan area. In addition to poetry, Suzy’s published works include memoir, church history, sacred book studies, feature articles on a variety of topics, short stories, and devotions. Suzy’s work has appeared online, in print collections, newspapers, newsletters, magazines and broadsides in Massachusetts, South Dakota, Arizona and Texas. She has also written song lyrics and rituals, some of which have been put to music and are performed regularly as part of worship services. Currently, Suzy is working on a collection of short stories with discussion points as well as a novel that she started last November during Nanowrimo.

Suzy maintains a number of blogs. You can find links to all of her blogs at her poetry blog, Riverpoems: A Book of Lights.

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