Marybeth Rua-Larsen



SWEPT
 
The obligatory conversation twice
a week:  the kids are fine, their grades are good,
the plumber's here, but she misunderstood
because her hearing aid was off.  You slice
through crumbs and sweep, in your bare feet, then run
them out the kitchen door:  Two birds, one stone;
you'll finish something while you're on the phone—
something mindless, something needing done.
 
The arguments were old, like grapes they'd rolled
beneath the stove and out of reach.  You stepped
around the sticky spots.  You softly beat
the rugs.  You missed the cheddar, gray with mold,
and almost dropped the telephone.  You swept,
she died.  Now you wear slippers on your feet.
 
 
FROST
 
They gave her Valium to slow his leaving
and like September's timid frost, they said
it was to ease the tights strings of her grieving
 
not bear her loss or stop her from day-dreaming
he'd come around, prepare her tulip bed.
They gave her Valium to slow his leaving
 
and she considered it, to calm her breathing
while she buried bulbs, all they'd left unsaid
would ease the tight strings of her grieving
 
until the thought occurred, it would be pleasing
to eat the sugar corn he'd hoarded.  Instead,
they gave her Valium to slow his leaving
 
and she smiled, purged his garlic while conceiving
ways to build her long-denied garden shed
and ease the tight strings of her grieving.
 
She eyed his kale, won't emulate his cheating
sweetness by denying frost.  Yes . . . he's dead.
They gave her Valium to slow his leaving,
but she had eased the tight strings of her grieving.
 
 
A BRIEF NEW ENGLAND HISTORY OF DESKS AND VIEWS
 
When her father, Bronson, built Louisa May
a desk between two windows in her room,
she faced the wall to write, then blazed away
to force those hot-house Marches into bloom.
 
And Hawthorne, who would rather stand than sit,
designed a tower room at Wayside.  Enthused
but bothered by its bleakness, he couldn't commit
to work; the standing desk was seldom used.
 
Then Emily: she couldn't have kept a lamp
and both her elbows on her desk and write.
When funerals passed in view, she would decamp
and seal her hymns in drawers, buried from sight.
 
A stream of tractor-trailers screens my view.
The ironing-board-as-desk makes its debut.



Marybeth Rua-Larsen lives, teaches and writes on the South Coast of Massachusetts.  Her poems have appeared in Measure, The Raintown Review, The Barefoot Muse and Two Review, among others.








                                    

 

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