From "An Instant out of Time"
Set in the midst of furrows.
A small house. No smoke from the chimney,
no people. They tried to hold on.
Oh, yes, next year's crop will yield,
and the dust will cease.
One child after another,
Dust Pneumonia threatening death.
Finally, the people moved on to Oklahoma
where conditions were the same,
then to California: No Oakies Allowed.
Now th efields are silent,
no sound of tractors.
The price of wheat falling and falling.
What might be left inside the house?
What wasn't necessary,
wouldn't fit in the jalopy.
The straight road ahead.
Signs to count the miles.
Stories for the children
to ward off hunger.
The mother saying, Soon.
Sleep my girl,
place your strawberry-blonde
hair on a pillow.
Dream the sweetest
of dreams, finer
than any sweet gift,
ribboned in pink—
color of the blanket
you were once wrapped in.
I sang to you then
as I sing to you now
over the desert land.
Published: Liturature Today, Vol. 8, 2018
I was wearing an orange maternity dress
that summer morning, standing at the airport
that would take you to Vietnam.
I wasn’t yet twenty-one.
Our parents never said how foolish we’d been
to marry, having done so themselves
in a time of war. I watched you
go up the steps of the plane,
put on your sunglasses
and turn to wave.
Should I have thought
I might never see you again?
The armor of youth.
I barely remember driving home,
only the comfort of the bed,
the antique dresser with mirrors
across the room. Somewhere someone
was mowing. I knew I should get up
at some point, the baby’s foot
a knot in my stomach.
Outside were lilacs, hollyhocks,
hydrangeas. I could make a bouquet.
But I didn’t.
Night came with its cool air,
air you were flying through.
A small lamp on, a moth at the screen
in its camouflage.
Publisheld: Haunted Waters Press, 2018
Still Life with Bottles
for my husband
after Monet, 1859
Come sit, share the bread with me, spread it with butter, there on the pewter dish. Pour the wine—we won’t need the carafe of water, but maybe later the apricot brandy the sun is hitting now, spreading its shadow across the table. Bring cheese, and there are apples in the kitchen in a basket. Red wine is your favorite, earthy tannins that preserve. I want to tell you of the new sadness, how the heart can fold like a flower at sunset. You, who’ve lived with me so long, having studied my face, desired good things for me—lift the bottle and pour, then my lips will taste like yours. Don’t worry about the white cloth if anything spills, it will wash. This knife isn’t sharp, just tear the baguette—bread made to last only a day. Now I can tell you, while all is quiet, the walls surrounding us, making us close in this small space.