When Jerome came to poetry class
last week, he walked with a solid stride,
his muscular neck and arms
extending from blue prison scrubs.
Jerome cradled a cloth bag,
and introduced his pet gopher.
In his poem that day, he fed her carrots
until her cheeks puffed,
snuggled with her in cold weather,
fur fuzzy as pocket fleece.
I thought I saw an eye peer through
the air hole of that bag.
Later, I questioned whether I saw
an actual gopher
or one his poem brought to life.
Today Jerome arrives cupping
something in his hands. He opens his palms
to reveal a brown sparrow, pecking
at a seed. I just held out my hand,
he says, and she flew into it.
Sally Vogl recently retired from a career teaching visually impaired students. In 2013, she earned an MFA in creative writing from California State University-Fresno. Some of her recent pieces appear in Gemini Magazine, The Main Street Rag, and Timberline Review.