–for my step-mother
Sometimes, I thought my father ruined her
like some force, wind or water, cutting
creases, ravines, into summer fields.
One moment, she laughed, lanky, two-pieced
in blue on the Mexican border,
tequila sunrise, poolside, held high,
like life cashed her in a winner.
Another, she guided the blind man
upstream to river’s secret cavern.
Half drunk on cocktails of disappointment
and duty, she changed his shitty sheets,
raged to him box scores, fed him pieces
of her impoverished heart. And I tallied
the income of his indifference.
Then for fifteen years, she bloomed again,
a crocus in winter, wisdom poured
from sober widowhood, grandchildren
blessed in pilgrimage to her temple.
Life claimed her and refused to let go.
After crows strip the corn and buzzards
glisten bone, what remains is courage.
from Sulphur River Literary Review and As Long As We Need (Black Buzzard Press)
For my thoughts on writing this poem, follow this link.