Susan Smith Nash
The room is harsh, chlorine
soaking into our pores,
even into the tomatoes and cucumbers
I slice for you.† Your napkin tucked close,
you say nothing, and
the narrative we all know by heart
remains unspoken.† My eyes
search for you inside yourself.† You are not here.
Where do I put crepe-myrtle, wild rose,
day-lilies, and backyard chrysanthemums
in my little card-file of memories?
I weeded the bean plants,
you swept under the wringers.
You oiled the push lawnmower,
I searched for four-leaf clovers
in the shade of the porch.
My mother bought you a dryer for winter.
You drew water for me in a claw-footed tub.
I listened to roosters crow
and the dawn train rattle down the tracks.
Magic and sadness.
I donít know why things are the way they are,
why I have to wear this façade of invulnerability,
why I grew out of my blue-gingham smocks, embroidered
with ducks, daisies, and deep blue sky,
and why youíre not here, even though
your hand pushes at the cucumber moons & tomato stars
I see floating on the delft blue plate.
Tonight the day fades all too slowly
accompanied by cicadas stuck in their husks
while figs burst open with seed and pulp.