Today's poem is by Chanda Feldman


We were in a place we rarely go
anymore, the door-key in my mother's purse,
as if her childhood house had options, wasn't its own

dead end. The cocklebur- and ragweed-choked
yard. The windows busted through, someone had dragged
the couch into the driveway, a few plates brimmed

with rainwater. It was never much
to begin with. A shotgun house on cinder blocks,
plumbing never installed. The roof's tin lid,

wind-hooked, bent.
I've always wondered what befell
those homesteads along highways. Slackened—

the crib barn's withered oak. How a family recedes
from the decline. Now I know
it can happen swift. The Mississippi River's ferry

service suspended. The lumber mill leaving
workers waiting in line. No one makes a living
farming these days. No one takes over

the uptown shops—all the undressed
window displays.

we're in a field I used to love and
hate. The thumb-fat bees at the water pump. Dog packs
switching through goldenrod. The hills stitched

in soy and cotton. The crying
panther I'd fear to hear before knowing
it was a tale. No one in the family could believe

my grandmother's last request: to be buried between
her two late husbands. It had been thirty years since
their bones rose on floods and washed away.

Who would remind her
it would have to be otherwise? It just made sense
to let it go.

Copyright © 2008 Chanda Feldman All rights reserved
from the Southern Review
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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