Merna Dyer Skinner


Merna Dyer Skinner is a poet, photographer, and the president and founder of the communications consulting firm Satori Communications, Inc. Merna’s most recent poems appear in Quartet, The Ekphrastic Review, Sulphur Surrealist Jungle (Featured Poet), among other journals, and three anthologies. Her chapbook, A Brief History of Two Aprons, was published by Finishing Line Press. Merna holds an MA in Communication Studies from Emerson College. She has lived in six U.S. states, traveled to five continents, and currently calls Portland, Oregon, home.


After Selling Your Lake House

You’re sure, after your child drowns, you will never return—yet, from across the lake, you watch the house, once yours. Early mornings you walk the road—approach the screen porch close enough to smell their coffee percolating, hear the crack and whisk of eggs, sizzling slabs of bacon hot on their griddle. You want no one to notice as you listen to the banter between mother, the children, their father— his laughter rolls across the lake, reviving memories of your husband in this cottage, your daily patterns recreated now by strangers. You stand alone resuscitating summer days filled with syncopated sounds of the screen door slamming as your sons run in and out—you recall bonfires, fireflies, sunburned arms. Most afternoons now you watch their kids sprint to the lake, dive off the dock— as their heads bob to the surface, you count.

I felt inspired to write this poem of imagined tragedy and redemption after first viewing Dale Niles’ fine art photograph, ‘Pardon?’ We see a woman standing just inside the threshold of what might be a cottage. Her hand, tentative, rests on a partially opened screen door. Why does she hesitate? What ‘pardon’ might she be seeking? These were questions I sought to answer in this ekphrastic poem.