Today's poems are by Judith Skillman


No, the acre has no hold on me, I told the cold.
And turned inward, as if looking
for the blackened eyes of mums
past blooming.

I will it to the children,
and their children. Let the elk
come and graze. Allow the deer—
three-pronged horns, a prizewinner—
to scratch bark from trees.

He's warm for mating.
No, I don't need the stain of the past
or the tenderness of the future.
Only a few dry leaves
to whisper against the fence

that keeps my neighbor,
the ex-policeman, in his own back yard.
After the grasses died back into the earth
they were resurrected as so many
dry sticks,

what was browned has become my own.
I take the doubled strings close to their frets
and press to play Down in the Valley,
which Mother sang off key when we drove
through Appalachia.

Hang your head over,
feel the wind blow
Her voice less tarnished than silver,
her British Chin up!
etched in lip-line

and the neck of my sweater dress,
a deep V.
I'll not go south in winter
but take the cold head on,
I think, but then there's always

the winning number,
a birthday where you're
invited to face off
in a different place,
and see what becomes you

as well as silence.

Copyright © 2004 Judith Skillman All rights reserved
from Latticework
David Robert Books
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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