by Marguerite Thoburn Watkins
Hawthorn berries, red and full,
bitter to any palate,
brighten the winter landscape after
dogwood, nandina, holly
are stripped by the birds.
Even the black bear who
pulled down a branch
spat the mouthful out and left
to paddle about in a neighbor’s garbage.
But now in the third pitiless snow of the winter,
all else consumed,
migrating robins feast in the hawthorn tree
and, in a circle around it,
young does, summer twins, paw under the snow
desperate for anything.
Thinking of the starving wild life,
I scatter corn and pieces of limp lettuce.
But the twins paw deeper,
fight for bitter berries.
When a creature
develops a taste for woe—sweet
goes bland. One hungers for bitter
that puckers the mouth,
and sears the lips.
Linguine Fini No. 8
by Linda S. Gottlieb
Flush to my sublet on Fifth, laid, paid, say
everything on an up. I have trouble getting my keys
in, and stand with the locks, cylinders played
to tumbled pins: my laptop, stereo, betting cash,
rent, three spoon rings from a grandmother – gone.
They tried to boil spaghetti, and left a jar of sauce
open side down on the sofa, with a note:
DEAR BLUE STEWPOT OWNER THUS FAR.
I have no stove, and the hotplate’s easy to miss.
A box of pasta cocks on my desk
beside an empty jewelry box. I touch everything.
The policemen come and dust for prints. They chide
like two mothers. I hand them, fully slit, the note,
my deadbeat palms all over it.
by Corrie Williamson
My garden won’t last in this dry Arkansas dust,
though I water it anyway, hose arcing
in my hand, keeping up the tomatoes’ swaying survival,
the lavender’s sweating. Through the slow blinding
of afternoon, a thin muslin across the eyes, I look into
the kitchen window. That folded paper took me by surprise
earlier, falling from a favorite book. I stay out
until the undersides of the walnut’s leaves stream gold,
and the cicadas trill and churn the dusk. They came
from the soil, hauling their heavy shrouds, and one followed me
into my house, dive-bombed the lamp, hissing bloom of light
I silenced with a shoe, pressing its body against the bulb.
It died with a racket - a rust-snarled door swinging.
When I come in dark has settled, and you are still
here, where I left you, the slender program
from your memorial service, the fresh-eyed photograph
that I cannot ask to tell me
what, in the end, the ground gives up.