RWB Workshop Poem of the Week – April 10

Poem of the Week 04/10/18

Maggie Amanda Jones at 104

John Barrale

She remembers Nantucket Island when it was the true heart
of her clipper ship captain, his ways set and weathered,
like the gray boards and red brick of the house they shared.

She misses him, still keeps his oil-skinned slicker on the hook
where he hung it to dry, a bulky thing— yellow-colored,
blonde like him.

He is in the small things: his meerschaum pipe
with the carved, bearded face waiting
like the doily on the parlor chair— its weave finer
than the best net, something she crocheted
as if to catch the Bay Rum smell from his hair.

Their house is a maze now, become so in a matter of fact way
when last year’s confusion struck— her stroke a slap
that said sit down.

She is slow. Her pride, like her chair’s wheels,
stubborn as oxen and often stuck in the rug’s pile,
or the floor’s warp—places where she, deer-like,
had once stepped lightly.

Maggie still remembers the hero uncles lost at sea,
each a tale told at midnight by dead aunts
who stare from painted portraits,
their whispers sea swells and dark knots
scattered along the parlor’s pine panels.

The aunts wear bright bonnets in morning sunlight,
and beg a smile when she passes, dear sister friends
who sit with her for breakfast tea by the fire.

She smiles, runs her hand through thinning hair.
She is old, very old, older than they once were.
Her ways simple —Sunday afternoons
one sherry glass set on the table not two.

But she is still alive, quietly enduring,
like her neighbor’s promise kept for sixty years—
not to cut the shared yard’s oak.

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