I study her daily at dusk, one more
silhouette in a pane. Memorize
the poetry of her fingers, sudsy with soap,
the way she tidies her hair, an apostrophe
behind each ear.
Light leaves the day
and it seems forever she waits.
She knows she’s got me cornered.
I watch as she raises her hand, jerks
a chain to illuminate a bulb that hangs
bare above the kitchen sink.
With the turn of a chrome faucet,
she sees not the woman, defiant
as an afternoon’s sun casts
her silhouette over the soap dish,
but the girl, barefoot in a hippie skirt,
baby on her hip, testing the water’s
temperature with the back of her hand.
Anyone outside looking in would never
guess the tenuous pretending that day,
all three of them in the tub
the baby between them, laughing,
the mother in front cautious,
offering up the soap, a ritual
to the water until it softens, frees
the sandalwood, the washcloth
from its papier maché skin.
Who even sees the father
behind her, taking
his turn with the soap now,
to make that incense
scent into a family.
The Time of Small Despair
After her hands cracked,
after the steroids
thinned her skin, made shine
her palms, their lifelines
gullied and thumbprints
evanesced, she longed
for the whorl, one more
flywheel she could seize,
longer tapered off.
this is evening.
The signposts speak in
tongues how every blast
down. While the makeshift
refuse to admit
Nancy Flynn says: “I hail from the coal country of northeastern Pennsylvania where somehow, at an early age, I fell in love with words instead of into a sinkhole or the then-polluted Susquehanna River. My writing has received the James Jones First Novel Fellowship and an Oregon Literary Fellowship; poetry chapbooks include The Hours of Us (2007) and Eternity a Coal’s Throw (forthcoming, 2012). A former university administrator, I now live in Portland, Oregon where my writing desk boasts the following: a smooth stone from a black-rock beach near Newport, Oregon; paper clips in the shapes of butterflies, bass and treble clefs, and a Japanese tea house; a green jade Buddha found in a monastery near Chiang Mai, Thailand; and a Roseville water lily vase from 1938 (the year my home was built) filled with fountain pens. In 2004, I happily reclaimed www.nancyflynn.com from the realtor in Massachusetts who had it first. More about my writing and publications can be found there.”