One year ago, an October brimming with uncertainty, and now
standing before Ontario’s choppy waters, I turn to pick up a leaf
that’s redder than the rest, lying one on top of the other, beneath
the sugar maple’s wide stance, and turn to you with it held up
against a steady wind, like a small flare to catch your eye—this
little thing pleases you in a way that pleases me, knowing we can
name it starfish without feeling strange & alone in this custom
that is our world when the rest of the world passes us by—yet,
waiting beyond this tree is a body of water that’s unpredictable
& spirited in its way of calling us back to its tattered shore.
M. J. Iuppa is the Director of the Visual and Performing Arts Minor Program, Writer-in-Residence (1999-2015) and Lecturer in Creative Writing at St. John Fisher College, and since 2000 to the present, a part-time lecturer in Creative Writing at The College at Brockport. Since 1986, she has been a teaching artist, working with students K-12, in Rochester, NY, and the surrounding area. She has three full-length poetry collections, most recently Small Worlds Floating, as well as Within Reach (both from Cherry Grove Collections, 2010), Night Traveler (Foothills Publishing, 2003), and 5 chapbooks, most recent being Between Worlds (Foothills Publishing, 2013), which is a collection of lyric essays, flash fiction and prose poems. She received Writers & Books’ Big Pencil Award, honoring her lifelong contributions to Rochester’s literary community. At St. John Fisher College, she has received the Part-Time Faculty Award for Teaching Excellence, May 2000, The Father Dorsey Award, 2000-2001 and 2002-2003, and a Certification of Recognition from the Monroe County Legislature, April 2003. She served as the poetry advisor for New York State Foundation for the Arts, 2007-2012. She and her husband Peter Tonery live on a small farm in Hamlin, NY, where they have been practicing organic food sustainability for the past 15 years.