Friday, April 18, 2014
In the basement, beside the stationary tubs,
my mother’s Maytag wringer washer.
Children didn’t touch. Saturday mornings
she’d dump our dirty clothes in,
fill the vat with detergent and water,
then set the agitator churning.
I’d peek into its frothy maw
but sit back down if she glanced my way.
As the tubs filled with hot rinse water
steam clung to her glasses like sweat,
sweat clung to her forehead like steam.
On the stool, I never asked to help.
As she fed the clothes through the wringer
they’d flatten like noodles, soapy sauce
running back into the wash machine.
Her eyes on the work, she’d talk to me.
After the second rinse, drains open,
she’d lift leaden baskets outside
to hang the wash. Then I could help.
I pulled a shirt sleeve loose
from the tangled load, saw the arm
my mother had described, the girl
whose fingers caught in the rollers
all the way to her shoulder
before the wringer could be turned off.
And here was her arm again,
hanging limp from my hands,
wrinkled and wet.
I fixed her with clothespins to the line,
both arms outstretched like a cross,
this little girl suffering every week
so that I might be saved.
Friday, April 11, 2014
Friday, April 4, 2014
The Last Act of March
Like a lion
wild with teeth
and claws, the wind
brings dust in gusts
fifty miles per hour.
Garbage cans clatter
in the street, entire
fields lift like stage scrim
reminiscent of the dry
Serengeti, filmed in sepia
as a blood red sun
Friday, March 28, 2014
Wrapped around the spindle
of my gas-powered trimmer,
a length of wire. I untangle
what I can from the shaft
but the trimmer won’t start.
No sputter, no spark.
The cows next door
glance up from their feed
to watch me struggle,
though only for the time
it takes to swallow, then
bend again to their task,
masticating the grass.
Friday, March 21, 2014
I was a naive giant when the first platoon mounted an assault on my leg. It was like Iwo Jima from the ants’ perspective, a contingency of antfantry had been commanded to stick something sharp in the bulge of my kneecap, which is how I first became aware of the attack. I slapped at the stinging sensation so suddenly I must have knocked the little heroes from here to eternity.
After I moved my feet out of their territory, brushing the first wave from my skin, I took a closer look at their fortifications, poked at the sand pile with a sturdy branch, and the earth seemed to gush, a virtual cauldron boiling with ants just beyond my feet. I was impressed. I was horrified. I stepped back to let them vent.
“Honey” I shouted, “come look at this.”
We both stood and stared at the ground, backing up as their ranks swelled.
“They sure look pissed. What did you do to upset them?”
“I stepped on their city.”
“Is that all?”
“Then I excavated their earth dome with this stick.”
We stood so quietly the ants must have thought we’d left. Then we were no more than two trees shading the ruins, two pillars of salt, a couple of eddies in an ocean of subterranean tides.
Friday, March 14, 2014
On the Practice of Daylight Savings
The clocks, advanced one hour, save
no one, not the imaginations of oblivious children
exhausted by the dark while waiting for school buses,
still comatose from that lost hour of sleep.
Not the shadows lengthening into evening
like tails on a tuxedo, all dressed up without
the energy to dance. Like Sisyphus’s rock,
we know pushing the sun back up the hill
won’t keep it there, and the gods won’t change
the sand in our hourglasses, and this life,
as we know it, remains fixed like a nail in the wall
where we grab a hat on the way out.
Friday, March 7, 2014
The storm this morning at 4 a.m.
woke me from a deep sleep,
tossed me onto my back
so I couldn’t help staring at its dark belly.
It took me a full minute to understand
I was safe, but by then the wind
whipped up its own little nightmare,
stripping limbs from the trees
as if splitting a stump into kindling.
By the sound of it
the moon that had been packed away
behind a thick padding of clouds
shattered as it struck the side of the house.
I sat up, pulled my blanket closer
for the sake of all the fragile things.