Pat Lowery Collins



Pat Lowery Collins is a poet, painter, and the author of many books for children and for young adults including the Reading Rainbow selection, I Am An Artist, and the recent sequel, I Am a Dancer. Her young adult novel in free verse, The Fattening Hut, won the Boston Author’s Club 2004 Julia Ward Howe Award and was a Book Sense Pick and ALA Amelia Bloomer choice.  Her acclaimed historical novel, Hidden Voices: The Orphan Musicians of Venice, appeared in 2009.

A chapbook of her poems, The Quiet Woman Wakes Up Shouting, is one in a series of chapbook originals published by Folly Cove Books.   The poems included here are from that volumePat teaches in Lesley University’s MFA program in creative writing and lives and works in Gloucester, MA.  (


7:00 p.m.


It is time

to harvest the light

rinsing houses, beaches, and boats

with fool’s gold,


to intercept

the pink stare of windows

fastened upon

the slipping

face of the sun.


It’s the hour

for the last tricks

of a burning alchemist –

shells made of glass,

sandcastles of bronze,

this glistening spell

as our part of the earth

turns away. Owning little

in which to collect fire


we use what we have –

the marrow of bone,

the window of eye,

an expandable heart.


*   *   *


Burial at Sea


One younger than the other. Both

very little girls. The older

wants to trade her seashells,

trick the smaller child

into giving up the best ones

from her plastic bag that leaks,

tiny shoots of water spouting

“just the way a boy pees,”

they agree. And they agree

the bird they’ve found is dead.


The children gather loosestrife, plant

short purple stalks that point into the sky

and form a circle all around the carcass,

the brittle bones and matted feathers

of a herring gull, washed

high by a moon tide.

They pile up bits of driftwood,

sea glass, small smooth stones.


The older child has used

the pearly lining of a mussel shell

to decorate the cairn; the younger puts

the periwinkle that she wouldn’t trade

beside the vacant eye. They sing,

their small high voices drifting up and up.