Two Poems by Laura Ann Reed

Something Useful

She finds me sprawled
face-down on a chaise lounge—
head in the shade, legs in
the sun. I peer between
white vinyl slats at
a tiny black ant.

You could be doing
something useful, she says, my
mother whose mouth holds
rivers that swim with
consonants and vowels—
so many ways of saying,
You’re not the daughter I wanted.

How to explain—
what’s sacred resides in
the sensation of warmth on
the backs of my legs, that and
the way the ant carries what looks
like a crumb in its jaws, although
I can tell it’s really a city of stillness.
Also, the fact that no one but
I witness it crossing the patio tiles,
bound for a place it belongs.

*

Thief

Early spring, I slip through
           a gap in the privet hedge.

The neighbor’s apple tree quivers
           with white frills of silk, unfurling

leaves that spin in wind. My mother
           won’t hold me in her gaze the way

I stand here gaping at this
           ancient tree. Won’t rock me

like I’m cradled in rain-
           soaked winter limbs, sheltered

in July—when the thinnest
           membrane lies between bark

and my sun-dark skin. In fall, that
           profusion of small, hard fruit. Tart,

with only a faint trace of sweetness.
           I eat and eat this proof of love.

*

Laura Ann Reed’s work has been anthologized in How To Love the World, and is forthcoming in the SMEOP anthology: HOT, as well as having appeared in Loch Raven, MacQueen’s Quinterly, Swimm, The Ekphrastic Review, and Willawaw, among other journals. Laura holds a dual undergraduate degree in French/Comp Lit from UC Berkeley, and completed Master’s Degree programs in the Performing Arts, Clinical Psychology, and Organizational Development prior to working as Leadership Development Trainer at the San Francisco headquarters of the United States Environmental Protection Agency, prior to the Trump Administration. She and her husband now reside in western Washington.

Only Now by Laura Ann Reed

Only Now
           —after Jim Moore

But I’m not ready, my father says,
           to be taken off the playing field—

and first I bring him shells that hold
           the sea. Then river stones. Then I

bring his favorite recordings
           of Paul Robeson singing spirituals

and lullabies. These make him cry.
           And it’s only now, two decades

later, that I see my error: All he needed
           was for me to be with him. To step

closer to his bedside. To allow into my heart
           what flooded his—all that loneliness.

*

Laura Ann Reed holds a dual undergraduate degree in French/Comparative Literature from The University of California, Berkeley, and subsequently completed master’s degree programs in the Performing Arts and Clinical Psychology—prior to working as a leadership development trainer at the San Francisco headquarters of the United States Environmental Protection Agency. She and her husband currently reside in western Washington. Her work has been anthologized in How To Love the World, and is forthcoming in the SMEOP anthology: HOT, and in the anthology, The Wonder of Small Things. Her poems have appeared in Swimm and The Ekphrastic Review, among other journals.