Chroia the Synesthete

This poem won First place in 2-Day Poem Contest 2014

She could tell, they said, a wolf howl

from a weasel, a raven from a rattlesnake,

puss moth in flight from the pika’s

shrill whistle. No one else had unlocked


the secret of timbres, no one saw the booster

ruckus of ravens, cramp of burdock-tangled wings,

the creak of a cricket’s serrated call.

The putative oracle of animal music,


they begged for her versions of truth,

believed she probably held the cards

if only they could see….

They encouraged their children to tag


along after her as she listened for candlefish

at the beginning of their run, to watch her

as her steps slowed to match the march

and clop of barge horses on the upriver pull.


Others could hear, but she could see the silver

shimmer in the death song of salmon,

the scarlet fall of howling from the ridges,

the nickel taste of red-tail circling in the loud, loud sky.