Reflections of a Grown Woman

Her hallway opened into the singing of a moon half drowned
in a cup of evening tea while she stopped moving to keep from waking
and wandering through another fifteen years of rain trickling down her windows.
Lighting a candle didn't bring him back, she whispered to the girl
standing through the haze as wax kissed the skin on her hands

like a bee. Her hand flexed under the weight. Where will we see him come,
said the girl through the haze. Where will his eyelids bat our cheeks
and call us angel again. Climbing the ladder
never brought her comfort, and she filled her lungs until
the water spilled from her eyes, reflections of a grown woman

standing before a man who wasn't her father. His legs too skinny
and his feet too heavy on the stairs. The hay felt like needles through her
dress and screams came running and laughing from the upstairs window
like the time the man not her father smashed the plates against the floor
and they played hide and seek together under the table

until morning. They pretended their tears were a potion to turn
them into birds and they could fly. She sat on the hay
until she smelled the man collapse into a cloud of smoke
and float away like the old raft on the lake.
Here again she cried herself into the bedroom and the blood

on the sheets. She could smell him there, the leather boots and the warm
petals. Always he left warm petals across the floor
like drops from a bloody nose to the bed, where hair and sweat
crawled together and held each other tight, the sheets wrinkled into a lonely
night filled with promises and handprints left on the window.

In Response to a Wall in Provo

I remember like wind warming
my cheeks. For days passed like tip-toed
whispers I long, and I hope for a return
to the untold folds in tomorrow's sheets.

While Papa Died

eventually he won't bleed she said
while dreaming elephants upon the corrugated rooftops
dancing in toe shoes and thimbles for hats
her mother didn't hear the words across her
cooling soup as the steam drew faces upon the ever
widening expanse of her eyes some of the faces cold and formed like tinmen
from the old cans that papa threw out to the dogs
both elated and emaciated from winter
and the running water resting like david between the burst pipe
and a melting scene of grass and tangled hair

eventually he won't bleed she said
into the white dress her mother bought her for her birthday
when the narcissus and daffodils groped the air
for pleasure the air would tremble as rough hands lifted her skirt
above her knees and down again
they both knew though they never spoke or made eye contact
in fact she had never seen his face but she dreamed that he had blue eyes
and cheeks that smelled like sound of chickens clucking
through the yard she liked when he would smile at her with his hands
and whisper summer rains into her memory
she missed him when he left and she remained curled and bleeding
her eyes painting upon her cheeks like spring paints upon frozen hillsides

eventually he won't bleed anymore she said
to the woman with the white gown and stethoscope mama gave
me a white dress last spring and i turned seventeen forever
when he smiled at me with his fingers like the laughter you hear
in the morning on the hillsides as the sun rises but turn to find the voices
hiding again in the grasses growing greener than they used to
he would take me places far away she said and he would leave me there for
us to grow old together like the china in grandma's cupboard
together he'd tell me secrets the woman in the white gown
would leave the room then and always like she was looking for a pet cat
and silence like an uncomfortable hat would fall from its place
on the coat tree and cry she would cry to because she forgot the most important part
that mama smiled when she put on her dress and said
mountains with a tanager's voice

eventually he won't bleed anymore she said
as the smell of dirt lifted her from heaven to the grave
and all the whispers and foretold memories of centuries precipitated upon
the windows of the car while lady sang the blues like sandpaper
and the music undressed her until she cried in front of him
for the first time she saw herself in the silver of the mirror and she
was beautiful without her dress and completely cold her eyes succumbed to her
and she stared into the mirror and saw herself
before she saw him and never his face for her protection
and he always had blue eyes