Mrs. Bentley is Still Here
All these years later, all those kilometers laid out in ribbon behind,
Shoulders squared half a million times, and an icy neck held stiff and proud,
A thousand clouds that I screamed down from on high,
Every skirmish I won, every deal I brokered.
And yet, even now, I am in the prairie house, tacking carpets to the window-gaps
To hold off the dust storm that swallows us alive.
No other pair of hands to help. There is grit in my teeth.
I know it is not the same house.
I know it is not the same storm.
But after all of it, after bringing a pan and a wooden spoon
Together in the unforgiving night,
You won’t get rid of me so easy!
I’m not going anywhere!
My words mean something true that I didn’t quite mean.
That storm ended, but it might as well have kept on.
I am still here, in my own house, preparing for siege.
The invader doesn’t even care to come in.
The house just happens to be in the way.
I press my face to the carpet I am hanging and breathe in mould,
In dirt, in footprints. That is the most of affection
I am getting today.
Behold your warrior now!
She fought for the right to stand in her house and say,
I belong here. I will insist upon my place.
She didn’t know this is what belonging is,
Reaching your hand out into the dark and touching nothing that responds,
But plenty of dirt that needs cleaning.
Tomorrow I will get vinegar, baking soda and rags made from old shirts.
But tonight we may need to sleep in the cellar.
Dreams of Summer Rain
I plan for a month of sunrise swims; I never expect
May Day to dawn with a frost, though it always does.
I never thought what I would be homesick for would be mildew,
would be clammy thighs, would be a typhoon rain, bringing
the violence of the ocean to where we sit. What I wouldn’t give
for a typhoon rain, the kind of summer that forbids dryness,
that forbids clean skin, the kind that sees a body home, always caught.
That puts us on sheets on the floor, in our underwear,
panting, and stinking, and not ashamed to be so.
That wilts the magazines in our melting red hands,
heat that swells the tips of my fingers with blood, makes my cheeks
rounder, half-closes my eyes with swelling. How later, a bucket
full of sulphurous water, the rust smell of the old pipes,
we will lift before us, and laugh, as if it were champagne, ready
to be spilled, indulgent, over our nakedness and our floors.
You bow to me, your bangs bright with droplets; All hail the tap-water heiress.
The neighbor boy comes home, cicadas clinging to his shirt,
just as his shirt is clinging to him. He closes his eyes and opens his mouth.
His arms open, as a dozen pairs of wings close,
as we lift the hose. Our laughter sliced through by the trains whistle,
the red and grey engine cutting through the green, making us
suddenly aware that here is the valley, here has long been the river,
here once was a glacier, in the cradle of this heat. White cranes
lift like steam from the treeline. They are not hurried.
Anyone, from a time that isn’t now, stands behind me.
Sweaty hands come around and bump at my thickening waistline,
the linen slip sticks to us both, and I
do not shy away. I lean into the touch, let my belly expand in gratefulness.
A radio, half-static, announcing that the heat may break tomorrow.
If only tomorrow would never come.
Kaye Nash is a poet and teacher from Vancouver Island. She began her writing career while living and teaching just outside Taipei, but now lives with her family in Canada once again. She has had poetry published in Necro Magazine, The Literary Mark, Amethyst Review, Mookychick, Lunate, Nymphs, and Dear Reader Poet, as well as in anthology projects from The Bangor, Teen Belle and Castabout Lit. She is a regular contributor at Headline Poetry and Press. She can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter at @KStapletonNash.
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