She worked the fields in the only shoes she owned.
Her father considered it wasteful to buy clothes
for children. Now that he’s dead, her mother
buys fruit and pasta, toys for the grandchildren,
strings of lights. Her brother drowned
in the night reservoir. After that death
her father hit the girl with his fists,
made her herd cows down the roadside.
There was always someone to call her trash,
the same girls who slipped off their panties
and lay down for sex in the churchyard,
cold on the tumbled stones. She’s back
at the church she attended for years,
parked in her rental car. The sky glistens
with blue stars. Snow slides down a scrap
of sky. Some stranger, a man in new overalls,
steps from the door of the church, pulls
the door shut. Red mud spatters
the strange man’s shoes. He reaches for keys
glances at her, then looks away. The goal
of her life has been get away, and
she did that. She doesn’t know why she
waits in the cold by the red brick church.
She should drive to tonight’s motel,
be ready to leave in the morning. Snow
finds light from a hidden source and gleams
in it, the moon hooked on bent branches.
Barbara Daniels’s Talk to the Lioness was published by Casa de Cinco Hermanas Press in 2020. Her poetry has appeared in Lake Effect, Cleaver, Faultline, Small Orange, Meridian, and elsewhere. Barbara Daniels received a 2020 fellowship from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.