The Works of Elayne Clift

Elayne's poetry and prose has appeared in numerous literary journals and is the author of two poetry collections: Demons Dancing in My Head and Other People, Other Lands. Elayne is also the author of two collections of short fiction:  Croning Tales and The Limits of Love.

All Poems © Elayne Clift

Conjuring Beauty In Unexpected Things [1]  


Today, I saw a paper clip.

Really saw it, I mean,

with its beautifully aligned curves

turning perfectly at each end

like a toy train track,

and I thought, what an extraordinary invention!

Who conceived it?  Who built the machines

that make them by the thousands

to ease prosaic moments in an ordinary life?

Then I saw a safety pin, and marveled at the ingenuity

of a tiny thing like that, small contribution perhaps,

but it too was perfectly designed, whimsical, practical,

crafted with care the way a woman knits a baby wrap.


I flipped on a light switch and nearly went mad 

with the intrigue of it all, 

innovation being such an awesome thing,

so you can imagine my frenzy when

later, I crossed a bridge -- a huge edifice

suspended by steel wires over a wide,

rapidly running river –

and marveled at a thing so efficiently beautiful,

arched like a rainbow to carry people from

one shore to another, defying nature perhaps,

but adding grandeur nonetheless,

with its girders and gargoyle carvings

amid others magical things.


There is beauty hiding everywhere.

There is magic in everything.

Knowing that, I am a child

with a secret too overwhelming to keep!


[1] Arundhati Roy in Writing the World on Globalization



Today, just after the fog had lifted,

And the mist had risen from the pond,  

A starched and stately heron stood

At the edge of the water,

Like a faithful servant, ever vigilant

Against vague disruption.

Then, sensing voyeurs,

he spread his wide blue wings

and lifted from the ground

In graceful, silent flight,

With no intention of giving notice.


Later, a large V crossed the sky,

Like a bridal ribbon or a child’s streamer,

As autumn migrations continue,

In perfect formation,

To cut a swath through the heavens

Like a seamstress skillfully cutting her cloth.

And in a pasture, a calf fragile and new,

Lay utterly still while its mother

Licked the detritus of birth from her babe. 


Some time later, wending our way home

Through tweeded foliage set alight

By a retiring sun, we saw

The baby calf and its mother again,

Joined now in the birthing field

By another cow laboring to drop her calf.

Heaving, lactating, eating the birth sac

Of her baby’s predecessor,

Her udder full to explosion,

The human menagerie, observing her confinement

As though she were Marie Antoinette,

Raised only the slightest interest.


Miraculously, at the close of day,

When the air and the humming birds

and the dragonflies no longer stir,

When bees nuzzle morning glory vines and

red garden flowers with lazy contentment,

a piebold deer and three wild turkey

grazed near the vegetable patch,

peaceful and unafraid.

Another splendid October day

has come to an end.



You floated then, all those years ago,

So snug and secure in an amniotic world

I could not know.

I only knew that I loved you,

Loved you with ferocious gentleness,

Unequivocally, bottomless, without reservation

As you inhabited that mysterious place,

When we had yet to meet.


Now, all these years later,

You float in another world

I cannot understand.

My body no longer nourishes and shields you,

Only my soul longs for you to be safe, secure,

And I know, painfully, that

I must lengthen the tether binding us still,

Lengthen it that you may find your way,

Floating, floating in a world so far away from mine.