Cheryl Della Pelle

Ranging from the poet’s tumultuous and joyful childhood, to her search for independence and love, to her immersion in the sensory pleasures of the natural world, the poems in Down to the Waters are utterly honest, uninhibited, and close to the bone. It is no wonder that this book has been greeted so enthusiastically. Sandra Bishop Ebner has written, “In this amazing debut book, the poet Cheryl Della Pelle takes us on a journey into a landscape filled with the sensual, the contemplative, the wisdom of the child’s eyes and a recognition of, and connection with, the conflicting elements within both nature and human nature. She skillfully surveys her own territory and discovers how one ‘trusts in what she cannot see’ and recognizes the need to witness. These poems are elegant, poignant, and memorable.” Joan Kunsch is equally impressed: “This poet’s gift is to imbue the ordinary with a significance that makes daily happenings into peak experiences: the trek to collect eggs from a henroost, a daughter’s unflinching catch of a hardball with sting pitched by the father she tries hard to please. With images such as ‘....cow-chant / rippling over the countryside like a joyride,’ the reader is carried along into the wonder of Della Pelle’s own journey.”

Cheryl Della Pelle is an educator, meditation instructor and master gardener. She owns and operates a one-woman gardening business, and spends as much time out of doors as possible. No doubt her early years spent on her grandparents’ Pennsylvania farm imprinted her for this current life of design and care of gardens. For many years she led a meditation group based on the teachings of Lobsang Samten, Pema Chodron and Thich Nhat Hanh; she also founded the Walking Haiku Meditation Workshop, drawing on the Zen tradition which inspires poetry born on the tongue. In 1995 she co-founded Common Thread, a poetry performance group, producing several evenings of poetry, dance and music throughout the year. As an educator, she is a visiting artist in public schools, colleges and retreat centers, helping students find expression through poetry. Her own poems have been published widely, and she has read at venues throughout Connecticut.

Click here to read sample poems.

Click here to view Cheryl Della Pelle’s upcoming events.


ISBN: 978-0-9792226-8-9
64 pages, 6" x 9" perfect bound



With the growing of lengthy grasses
around my shanks,
I was tickled into noticing
here I was in the meadow,
giving of churned rye
and wildflowers.
My breath puffed out,
surprisingly full of hot, moist clover.
Nothing would ever taste sweeter.
I scratched into hummocks,
scattering bees,
gathering grasses into myself.
Plainly alone, it never occurred to me
to join the herd; this was not one
of my capabilities or desires.
And so, to break the silence,
to hear my own voice, I lowed,
over and over,
a deep mellifluous cow-chant,
rippling over the countryside like a joyride;
over and over, I lowed until I laughed,
a heavy bellyful of summer.


You were
too tall,
too handsome.
I think I sassed you some
so you hit me
across the face.
Because I was five, I flew.
I was sad
but happy
to go hunting and fishing,
trying my best to be a boy
threading worms on hooks.
Not many girls traipsed through cornfields
on dark November mornings.
I ran to keep pace with your exaggerated stride,
fed you chocolate when the time was right
and learned the ballet of a bird-dog
flushing pheasant.
But my greatest achievement
was catching your lefty fastball
stinging into a too-thin mitt
without flinching.


The cool-down,
a shaggy blue-grey sky
shakes itself out,
all around hums,
muses out loud
about sun-browned skin
that still smells as warm as
the dark red longing
for you who know
there is no time for lowered lids
and stare the only moment
straight in the face
before the chill sets in,
while the light is still good.

A rush of dahlias knows nothing
of restraint or little passions.
All around hums
a deep earth rumble
and I come to you with a human face,
born and dying,
see you down low
with a look that says everything about desire
and I tire of words,
want only my dark red longing
cured by a wild lover, pungent
as snapped stems, flesh flushed
before the chill sets in,
while the light is still good.


October light slants sideways,
gathers around the edges of everything.
On fresh-snapped air, full of late raspberries,
I am dizzy, buoyant even.

I walk uphill from the house.
An animal with little fur,
I plunge in bare arms,
get stuck and scratched.

Red juice stains the palm of my hand.
Bearing the mark of a true believer
in the fruit of this earth,
I graze the bee-lazy patch.

Beads of blood well up on my wrists
from wounds inflicted willingly.
I think how I prefer this viscous circling
more beautiful than a ruby bracelet.

What inner hunger drives me
to suck raspberries into my mouth,
licking juice and blood
from the arms of my earthbound body!

Back to the TOP of the page