Aunt Sara Shops for Tchotchkes at Morrow’s Nut House
She can never pass a gift shop window
on the boardwalk without stopping
to look at Indian print beach wraps,
orange and blue buckets, shovels, postcards,
fudge, seagull figurines made of glass, silica
and salt. The rose quartz geode lit from below
glints like a faceted ballet through nested windows
to its flamingo crystal heart. Who can resist the promise
of mixed nuts, fool’s gold, salt water taffy,
stuffed orca whales, lighthouse posters,
starfish magnets and gum balls? A pendant
of Cape May diamonds in a box made of shells,
a ring in seed pearls and cubic zirconia glued to its gold
filled matrix and displayed on genuine black
velvet against her moue of distaste.
She is tapped out and window shopping
but rummages her bag for the few coins
she’ll need to hold the hard igneous flavor
of every August afternoon in the white bag
of rock candy she just can’t live without.
My Father Refuses a Cane
I tell myself recovery waits beside
the stick hanging on the bedside of his
new confinement and I tell him
that petulance is downright admirable.
The risk is believing angels
inhabit the framework of these small
improvements, a whispered
miracle we will never approach
seriously. These days his night light
is a holy thing when it reveals the hazard
of an unsteady path. He understands how
a fall can set the cogs of eternity
falling into each other one by one
while I try to fold his fingers
around this rejected advocate
and call it some kind of faith.
The Cowgirl House
The propane tank
behind Arlene’s barn is empty,
mud in the paddock frozen
in waves and the box stall houses
a scattering of little bones
abandoned by their ghost.
We can’t stay here
even if the rent is dirt
cheap and the chimney still draws
with the urgency of winter itself.
The place belongs to 50 years
of rodeo queens, to fox dens
and pygmy goats, to cloud
shadows on the prairie.
We walk through her hushed rooms
while Arlene, 82, sits alone
in her red Pontiac convertible
on the cattle grate of the gravel drive,
For Rent sign
rattling like a whirligig
in the Cheyenne wind.