Frances Ruhlen McConnel is co-chair of the Claremont Poetry Series’ Steering Committee and she has been on the board of the Friends of the Claremont Library since 2007. She has three books of her own poetry: Gathering Light; White Birches, Black Water; and The Direction of Longing.  She also edited an anthology of West Coast women poets: One Step Closer.  She’s written book reviews for The Los Angeles Times and several other newspapers and journals. Her poems have appeared widely in such places as The Atlantic Monthly, The Seattle Review, The Alaska Quarterly review, and Mudlark, as well as in anthologies such as The Bear Flag Republic.  She also writes and publishes fiction and essays. She has visits from the muses of her various past home towns: Seattle, Anchorage, Oak Ridge, Tennessee and Providence, Rhode Island. McConnel taught for 18 years for the Creative Writing Department at the University of California in Riverside and continues to teach privately.


Winter Lullaby

Among nights, I am the one with the aurora
pouring its rainbow milk from flask to flask.
Among days I am the first snow falling,
touching your face, the branches of the paper birch,
brown sodden leaves in the grass, by nightfall
covering the world with the bright sheen
of ice ferns, keeping you secret in your dreams
as a fox in its frozen lair, as a child
numb in the white womb of nothingness
before entering the mother’s red furnace room.


On the Chester Creek Trail

Because of the still beauty of the path
through yellow birches,
I didn’t look beyond the white trunks
and missed yet again my Anchorage moose-sighting,

that look into the stillness of the Pleistocene,
the beauty of a face
loved by old gods, gods indifferent
to our comely aesthetics.


Four Haiku

from White birches, Black water

A Volkswagen battery                                          
propped against an oil stove:
cold winter night

wilderness swim:
our backs tattooed
with the calligraphy of leeches

the white wings of an owl
more like the wind
than the wind

passing 60:
a couch upended
in the fast lane



Frances Ruhlen McConnel



2012 Frances Ruhlen McConnel

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