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Katie Kingston
Woman Resting  
      Teotitlán del Valle, Mexico 
I have been waiting days to move 
to the hammock, to drift 
beneath the white portal into a white 
dream delineated by black 
        Above me, the green tree 
full of green grapefruit and a cluster
of yellow birds. My sky sways 
with palm leaves and wingspan. 
Footsteps approach 
like a lullaby.  
                    In the distance a child 
wails blue syllables and the rooster 
releases another qui-qui-ri-qui-qui
I sketch their sounds on paper
alongside the corrugated bray 
of burro.
             The hammock swings 
in the key of G. I am surrounded by tuning 
forks and pomegranate blossoms. 
I call this place 
                Lull is the word that comes 
to mind. Lull says the wood smoke, lull 
says the sheet on the line, lull says 
the loom’s shuttle tapping wool strands 
of indigo and cochineal 
into the snug fit 
of weft.  
             Sometimes the name for gold 
dye escapes me, so I put down the pen, feel 
the rhythm of my body as if I too 
am a leaf lulled by breeze, 
as if I too am held to the branch 
by a nub of stem. 
Kellie Wells
from In the Hatred of a Minute
When Time was a little girl, she couldn’t wait to grow up. At four, no stranger to blood, she got her period. At six she married a train conductor. Nobody ever loved her so well as the train conductor. Except perhaps the country of Switzerland. History, who walked around with warheads and that inaugural wheel and fightin’ words and a triceratops or two and the Golden Horde and creation myths featuring a landscape cobbled together from the hips and breasts and randomly strewn extremities of a savaged body and the Big Bang and bombardiers and bad decisions and Stonehenge and a Flat Earth and its dead partisans and the Vin Fiz Flyer and blazing villages and Marie Antoinette and multiple paradigm shifts and the Bronze Age and Aramaic and slave ships and the tell-tale iridium layer blanketing the bones of dinosaurs and the pathological insecurities of despots—all falling from his mouth—had mixed feelings about her. He depended on her but sometimes thought of her as his bitch. Unlike the train conductor, he was impossible to kiss. He liked facts more than theories, men more than women, war more than peace, the victor more than the vanquished, carrots more than parsnips, and had not been a good father to Historicity and Historiography, latchkey offspring who raised themselves from a tender age. History does not like to think of himself as a nightmare from which a famous fictional character cannot awake. Writers are all such gloomy gusses, thinks History, they should just leave him out of it, honestly. History, History feels compelled to point out, never did anything without the will and sanction of nettled men.  
But Time, she’s always passing, dying 86,400 deaths a day. Time hasn’t time enough for fear or grief. Or knitting. Or long walks along the beach. Woodworking. Kickboxing. She once tried tai chi, but it made her anxious. As does the soothing music piped into the waiting rooms of dentists; she could grind her crowns to dust listening to that. Time wears a cardigan so as not to freeze. Time has always wanted to travel to the moon, in a sleeping berth, rocked to sleep by the rhythmic wobble of the rocket. In the absence of gravity, her bones and purpose would thin and she’d become more mollusk than sundown, more inchworm than equinox. She’ll make that possible one day, discount travel to other planets. In Time are all things possible, Time’s mother used to tell her after she came home from a long, hard day of being heckled by those geniuses she went to John Dewey Junior High with: Time passes, they crowed as she walked by, just like gas! That had made her persona non grata in the cafeteria. Time’s mother told her to just take it a day at a time, things were bound to improve, junior high would not last forever. Time shuddered at the thought.
Robert Russell
I can never get enough
of the juice that runs down my chin
from the peach I shared with my sister
one Saturday morning in July
when the sun cleared the steeple
and poured heat over us both
as if it had been pierced,
and the women shopping in the market
gobbled around us, and the sellers
hollered prices too fast to understand.
She wore my old white shirt
that was too small for her,  the neck gapped open
and I felt embarrassed but didn’t know why
when a blue-black strand of hair fallen like a wing
strayed down the front and the man with the rabbits in cages—
Dutch Lops—leaned forward to look
as she leaned down to look at them.
The lame boy with the crutch in the square
offered us his upturned palm
and she gave him our last peseta
but it didn’t matter, we had enough, the peach
was so ripe the flesh was orange
and our hands were sticky 
until we rinsed them in the fountain
and she took mine in hers
and said, “Here, let me”—
the water so cold it stung—
but her fingers warmed mine 
and that fragrance in the sunlight
now always hers.  “I don’t want to go back,”
she said, “Not yet.”
Tom Hansen
Dark Night
at four score and eight
snow began falling
the world slowly changed
it went blank it grew strange
while wind kept insisting
december december 
and blew out the cold tiny
stars one by one
Caitlin Kindervatter-Clark
from The Pygmy Queen
Morning, October. The family is having breakfast by the swimming pool, where the light casts marbled patterns in the glowing water. An umbrella covers most of their table in shade, but Glenda, the grandmother, sits in a wedge of sun. She is looking up at two storks perched on the pool-house roof. They are tall, hunchbacked birds, with black eyes and beaks that hang like scowls. They probably disapprove of the family’s choice of breakfast foods, the soy sausages and slice-and-bake rolls. They’ve come seeking carrion, fish straight from the sea.
At the table with Glenda sit Paul, her son, and Anna, her teenaged granddaughter. Neither has noticed the birds. Paul is walled in by an unfolded newspaper, and Anna is asleep, her head against the stone tabletop. Beside her is a plate of untouched food.
They are waiting for Val, Paul’s wife, who is inside, dawdling with the coffee. She has a gift for turning the simplest tasks into long, involved endeavors. Glenda is in no hurry, but Paul has to leave for the office and Anna for school. Val hasn’t found a practice to join since the family moved to Florida, so she works from home, seeing her few patients in the cottage that Glenda and Dwight used for overnight guests. 
Anna’s lips twitch; she is dreaming. Glenda doesn’t know how she can sleep like that, with her head against the stone. She reaches out and touches the girl’s blond head. Anna’s eyelids flutter, but they do not open.
“Okay,” says Val, sliding open the deck door. “Here it is.” She is holding her French press, which she insists on using even though Glenda owns a coffee machine.  Val is a particular woman, in many ways the opposite of Paul, who doesn’t notice where his coffee comes from or who makes it, as long as he has a cup before heading out the door. He has changed little in the twenty-five years since he last lived under Glenda’s roof. In the morning, he is still quiet and rumpled, with his cheeks creased in pillowcase lines. His hair still grows in the same funny way, straight up from his forehead, but where he used to comb it down with gel, he now uses only water. 
 “Look,” Glenda says, once Val has arrived at the table. She points up at the storks. “Those sour-pusses think they’re going to have some of our breakfast. But they won’t find what they’re looking for here!” She calls up to the birds: “My granddaughter’s a vegetarian!”
Anna lifts her head, her cheek indented by the pores of the stone. Paul lowers his newspaper, and Val puts a hand over her lipsticked mouth. “Paul,” she says. “Those are vultures.” 
Paige Riehl
Farm Kids
We were born to eat hotdish, to live in homes smelling
of hamburger or pork always, cigarettes sometimes. We were 
towheads, most of us, in Kmart jeans and John Deere caps. We took 
three trips a year to the big city, packed up the station 
wagon with canned goods and pop to last for months. Our hands
grew strong from baling hay and carrying feed. We drank
at twelve or thirteen in our parents’ car, somebody’s
field, around a glowing fire in the gravel pits. The bar’s neon
sign said Drink Miller Lite, so we did. We slept 
through history, went to state with Future Homemakers
of America. The horizon seemed to end just a few miles 
beyond our town near the flax field, a straight line  
we crossed only for away games in the yellow bus. We mostly 
went to church, mostly held on to our virginity after the dance 
where the streamers waved like hands. We listened
to songs about getting out, identified with guitars and Tommy
and Gina, heard we weren’t college material from the school
counselor but went anyway. We earned Masters and PhDs, moved
to places like Minneapolis or Anchorage where we learned
coffee grounds weren’t always mixed with raw egg. We kept our eyes 
forward. Most of us. A couple of us stayed: the teacher in training, 
the undertaker’s assistant, the farm kid who took the deed
and crawled into the dirty tractor cab, his eyes scanning the horizon, 
his hands holding the wheel as if it would guide him there.
Judith Clark
from Girlfriend
Miss Claude’s own house has gone way downhill.  It needs everything from a new roof to new glass and bars on the upstairs windows, now the neighborhood’s got so bad.  Rain and squirrels get in up there, but I guess it’s her house.  She has lived a pretty long time.  
Miss Claude herself always talks like she’s about to bite it.  She wants me to feel sorry for her.  Not that she’s the least bit sorry for me.  But there’s no one else to listen, take her for a walk, go to the corner store, and not forget about her, which I wouldn’t.  She’ll hold her side and drop a remark about how I must take this or that because she won’t last much longer.  The Civil War sword over the mantel, or a wooden radio with tubes, like that.  But I’m responsible on my own without anyone twisting my arm.  (Joke.)  I always do my two days a week after school.  She perks up when I come in, the rest of the stuff just washes over the top of my head.  
Someone comes in, mornings, but no one ever answers the door when I get there after school.  I let myself in.  That particular day I found her with the covers pulled up to her chin, her face as white as a sheet of paper.  Like some old love letter, balled into a million creases.
She was pretending to be asleep.  “Oh, napping,” I whispered, loud enough for her to hear.  I started to back out.    
The eyes opened in a nanosecond,  “Not so fast.  Bring me a glass of water, Young Allen.  It’s this infernal backache, probably a kidney. I haven’t taken a morsel today.”
Miss Claude always calls me Young Allen, even though I’m sixteen years old.  That’s to distinguish me from my grandfather, old Allen, who she knew.  They were neighbors in the old days when everyone around here went to the Dutch Reformed church.  I went into the bathroom, a whole ten feet from her bed.  Her tooth glass was empty, and the sink had drops of water on it.  I filled the blue thumbprint tumbler, which according to her was Colonial, of course.
“Thank you, Young Allen.”  I made as if she was too weak to hold it herself, holding it right to her lips and she shot her hand out and snatched it.  “Thank you, I’m not that sick.”  And she bunched the white eyebrows into a major frown.
“Miss Claude, you don’t look sick at all, you look especially nice today with your hair already combed, and your teeth in, too.  That kidney must have kicked in just before I got here.  Do I see you have your slippers on under the sheet?”  My real job is to sort of keep her on her toes, see.  (Joke, again.)  Going all mournful wouldn’t be any help.
Right away she said, “My feet were cold.  Poor circulation, I’ve told you.  Not that I expect your sympathy, of course.  Step out while I dress myself, please.”  She handed me the glass and pulled her hand back under the spread and pressed at her side, frowning up at the far corner of the ceiling as if she were in too much pain to remember I was in the room.  So I walked out.
She took two minutes max because as I expected under the covers she already had everything on.  I didn’t mind, though.  I was glad it wasn’t one of her really bad days like the week before, nothing but moaning and then we don’t go out, just sit there.  And I have to read to her, can you believe she doesn’t like TV?  
Gail Rudd Entrekin
Something Coming
We are beginning to understand something 
of what is coming, to go beyond sensing a shadow 
in the woods watching us, and to see it take shape, 
see it coming toward us across a field, zigzagging 
as it does, now standing idle and watching the sky, 
now heading directly for us at a trot.  And realizing 
that we are seen, that it will find us no matter 
what we do, we are slowing down.  
standing very still hoping to blend with the waving
greens of this raw springtime, to stay upwind
of it as warmer breezes pick up and buffet the leaves, 
the grasses, tossing everything in a moving salad
of life; we sway on our legs, trying to move with the air 
that surrounds us, and we stop thinking of what is around
the next bend in the path, stop planning our next
escape route, and begin to merge with the moment;
we have slipped into a painting by Van Gogh;
something is coming again across the fields and we 
are open as sunflowers in full bloom
to these last moments on the earth. 
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