Mary Peelen


I skied downhill in the dark
white Michigan woods

frictionless as a vector,

exhilarated with velocity,
magnitude, and direction,

my hair aloft in the frigid air,
long tail of the arrow.

As in all creation myths,
the details were biological:

a cranium, a sassafras tree.
The moon was astrological.

The collision was random  
as any subatomic event.

Its effect was small at first,
evolving in complexity

and technical precision.
Migraine as meteorology.

Symptoms are quantifiable
when a storm is on the way.


Aurora Borealis

Far north,
a reckoning in the neon sky

blinding as an ocular migraine,
its taste of iron on the tongue.

In the very nearly breathable
realms of the atmosphere,

solar winds animate
the earth’s polar flowlines,

magnetic pole gone glinty
with souls of old ghosts.

Oxygen and nitrogen collide,
charged particles ignite,

green and violet night-flares
reach toward heaven

like arms of the reclaimed
at the rapture.

Neurological sequelae
caustic as Arctic weather

invent the need for odd belief
as a means of salvation.

Author Photograph

[Image Description: A white woman with a close-cropped strawberry blonde bob smiles in the direction of a red and green apple she holds in her hand. She's wearing a light blue t-shirt under a beige jacket and multiple gold-colored necklaces.]

Author Biography

Mary Peelen was born and raised in Michigan. Her poetry, fiction, and nonfiction have appeared in Bennington Review, New American Writing, Michigan Quarterly Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, and Poetry Review (UK), and are forthcoming in Gulf Coast and Antioch Review. Recipient of an MFA from San Francisco State University and an MDiv from the Graduate Theological Union, she lives in San Francisco.