Terracotta. Shades of slate. Looking out on grays and browns of winter’s
end while you walk among sun-baked remnants of civilizations lost,
I watch future ones run to line up on asphalt-marked x’s showing
where to keep distance. Your rocks tumble over each other;
my young charges dash past, twirl, twist in shapes I couldn’t get
into if I tried. You ponder beds of broken prisms, polygons
my little ones learn to name at age five. I teach other people’s
children, will never carry any of my own. You wear the most
recent addition strapped to your chest which I will never press
against the way I lay upon my husband’s in late afternoon light,
watching shadow bars on the wall as he slips into sleep and I try
not to think about you. Are we broken inside, lying at proper angles
in rock beds of our own making? What right have we to wish for contours
that might fit the people we have eventually become?
disconformity: an unconformity at which the bedding of rocks above and below are parallel.
At Your Service
I was the one who got up at dawn to cycle down roads empty
and warm. Who opened the office, counted the till, set up
the drawer. Tore apart biscuits, piled pastries on trays to look
tempting, unlocked the door to let you all in. I was the one
who frothed milk for your lattes, spooned oatmeal and grits,
with cheese and without. Who told you the cost of your blueberry
muffin, your bear claw, your scone. Wiped down wooden tables,
stacked china plates, hung dish towels to dry. I was the one who
avoided the questions, “And what are you doing? Working where?
Doing what?” Who ducked disappointment of parents and friends.
Never told them I waited on angels, regular patrons I greeted by name.
I’m still on that road that I started of serving, observing, gathering
up stories and fragments to serve me for years.
All I can see is your wedding ring, you say when I try to show
off my favorite panties, donned in your honor, minky pink faux
leopard print, about as wild as I get, unlike you, resplendent
in crimson briefs you washed with the t-shirt you slept in last night,
pale rose, gentle as the insides of a conch, the kind raised to lips and blown
to call our faithful to prayer, the way you answer the call each morning,
walking to your congregation where you pray for me, you say,
each day you pray for me but today asked me to do so for you.
Will these will be the last words I hear from your lips? I shape mine
into a kiss, blow out my breath to release the harsh gripping and recall
a sudden vision I had while watching your face: sitting beside you
in your garden, dappled shadows touching us as I reach to stroke
the white hairs by your ears, pass my fingers over them so lightly
you can’t feel me but still you know I’m there, answering your call to prayer.
Carole Greenfield grew up in Colombia and now lives in Massachusetts. Her work has appeared in Red Dancefloor, Gulfstream, The Sow’s Ear, Women’s Words, Arc, Beltway Quarterly Review and is forthcoming from Eunoia Review. She recently appeared on ‘Poets vs. the Pandemic.’