At the Corner of Orchard and Second
In 1989, I lived in a duplex, mid-fix, 9 months
pregnant while the man I married drove
206 miles one way twice a week to weld continuous
Rail for CSX. One room was a peninsula of windows
that leaked heat but leveraged light like
a crystal, so I begged him not to board it up. He smelled
of diesel fuel and I could hear his Jetta turn
the corner of our block when he was back
for pork chops, chocolate pie and sex.
When he was home he mostly slept
or plumbed the crooked floors or punched
out horse-hair plaster walls or left
at 2:00 pm for pulled pork sandwiches
and cans of Busch. Sometimes I’d leave
to find him laughing on a bar stool.
Everyone said what a good woman
I was. We believed together
we’d make something better
of the rooms we’d soon rent out.
When you work and ask for nothing
more, you think you’re right. One night
the baby head-butted me on the bridge
of my nose and someone came right out
and asked who threw the punch.
Today, I run my palm against the grain of velvet
of a doe that stands outside my house. The doe is real.
Its coat, soft as air. I lied about the proximity of hands.
Everything’s a Version of You
We thought it might be dead. Remember,
when the bat got in? Trapped
in the shower, it circled the glass, clung
with suction cup thumbs,
dropped like a rag.
I don’t know what we thought.
So, we shut off lights, opened doors.
Through the moonlit kitchen
into the foyer, quick as it entered,
—out it flew.
It’s been twenty years since
you left the house, drove
until first light, found a place
to die on Tick Ridge. You could have been
sleeping in that grove of hickories.
Bats still cloud our streetlamp like
the opening of a cave. Stars slide into
constellations I try to name. Everything,
a version of you here: the bat, little Lazarus
lifts from the floor into a black
sky shot with stars. Once chained,
Andromeda’s a galaxy, freed.
Dead, how brightly, she
courses for a billion years
The End Of Winter
When I think about the end
of us, I’m chopping onions.
In the distance, a train on the tin horizon
blows across tracks where I could be waiting,
holding my paisley suitcase.
In February, snow knows no boundaries,
blankets us in oblivion. We like it
at first, being tucked in, immobilized
by our lack of control, kick into survival mode.
Portable propane heater. Check.
Coleman lantern, check.
Things seem possible.
When rain begins, ice pelts the ground,
6-8 inches of snow. I’m peppering the roast
when the lights go out and everything powers down.
While we wait for men in cherry pickers to reach us,
we tell stories in the near dark.
I barely conjure the blizzard of ’78,
but you say you’ll never forget
snow stacked so high it reaches the eaves.
You have to tunnel out.
As if what happens, happens twice,
my story of the storm is a white field,
days blown with a random neighbor kid
the winter before the summer
I met the first boy who broke my heart.
I was 14. We both played trumpet in the high school band.
I hear he has twins and isn’t sure he loves his wife.
It’s never the end until you say it is. Darkness holds
us to the heat of love, blankets doubled over like a rug.
In the cold arms of a weigela, a fat cardinal sings.
Scoops of seed, cakes of fat start the frenzy.
Starlings in their midnight feathers, linen finches
flit from suet cage to barren tree, sing their tinny tune of survival.
All they seem to know is survival. Pretty little savages.
Jane Ann Fuller’s poems have appeared in such journals as The American Journal of Poetry, Shenandoah, Still: the Journal, The MacGuffin, jmww, Atticus Review, Sugar House Review, Waccamaw, Northern Appalachia Review, Pine Mountain Sand and Gravel, Rise Up Review, and elsewhere, and in such anthologies as I Thought I Heard A Cardinal Sing, All We Know of Pleasure: Poetic Erotica by Women, and It Starts With Hope, (The Center for Victims of Torture). Her collection, Half-Life, was published in 2021 by Sheila-Na-Gig Editions.