A poem from the book:
The day he left, he promised he would return for her.
After all, they had worked it out – first he would go,
followed by the two eldest, then she and the youngsters.
It would be difficult starting out but he knew people.
Things would get better, she would see. He would write.
He would send money for the boat tickets and instructions.
Hadn’t he always been reliable, been a good provider,
made their furniture, sealed the roof, split the firewood?
Hadn’t there always been food on the table, clothes for the children?
He would be back before she even missed him.
They would have, like all the others, a better life.
The day he left, as she watched him walk out of the village,
she cradled the baby in her arms (or perhaps rested it on her hip),
while the other children followed him down the dirt path,
until he said, That’s enough now, go help your mother,
and kissed them on their heads.
At night, lying in bed, she would remember how candlelight flickered
across his face, highlighting his gray eyes, his soft lips,
how he would trace his calloused fingers across her breasts
under her nightgown, then blow out the flame.
At night, lying in the dark, listening to the family’s breathing–
muted, easy, except for the baby’s occasional cries–
or the wind, the brittle leaves flying, she would think
of husbands who disappeared, were never heard from
somewhere in America,
the ones village gossips swore had married someone else.
(First appeared in: Poetica magazine)
WHOLE CLOTH by Ronnie Hess, ISBN 978-0-9823419-5-7, 48 pp. 13 illus.
Available for $12 plus $3 s&h from:
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