The Orchards Poetry Journal recently published “Iowa Dreams” in their winter issue (p. 21). Longtime readers of this blog may have noticed how I’ve tinkered with this poem while evolving my craft.
December rose raw and sunless; layers piled roadside gray
where plows threw snow, sand, and ice, and gritty drifts
packed down into rough-hewn walls my shovel could not breach.
Christmas carols rang foreign, and the birdbath brimmed with stone water.
My dreams rolled Midwest, with May prairies greening
and sod breaking in prized rectangular patches
and my neighbor warning that cucumber seeds never burrowed
until Mother’s Day when peonies flirted ruffled skirts.
The cold crept me awake, and I took a bundled turn
in the neighbor’s garden; my glove-dimmed fingers unlatched
the cypress moon gate where concrete fu dogs
grimaced as blue hollies pricked the night’s blanket.
Woody vines weighted the arbor’s bones,
and river birches peeled salmon in the side yard
where needle-thin bird tracks ghosted—
a temple bell chimed copper prayers,
and I plunged boot-deep back to my deck and paused,
brushing off the fishnet metal top of Nannie’s patio table
that once baked on Georgia lemonade days; the wind had rounded
the snow in the laps of the ice-cream chairs, now her fat bridge foursome
greedy for the triumph of sweeping pennies into leather coin purses
that snapped shut, smartly enough, with kiss clasps—
and I longed for iron-worn bedsheets billowing in cumulus
motion on a clothesline as my father staked bean poles
in crooked clay rows and bent to plant Kentucky Wonders
before Good Friday thundered in the Appalachian foothills.