For Joan Colby
The plow lines end
At a thin horizon
That has taken you
Into its quiet sigh, you
Who have wielded words
As beautiful as evening
Falling on fresh haymow
In the fields of Plato Center.
They swept wide and true,
A lover ’s scythe swung
With precision. We come
And we go. Our morning
Coffee will still taste good,
Our days continue, filled
With what we yearn to know.
This year, as fall slowly begins
To darken a midwestern sky,
We will know that August
Can sometimes be
The cruelest month.
Folding My Wife’s Underwear
Some things lie quietly, just beyond
my grasp. The colors of an areca palm
as the rain moves aside, the sun piercing
many-fingered leaves. How to fold
the strange shapes that comprise a woman’s
clothes, the way she wears those clothes,
identifying the right accessories. What it takes
to get her out of the house on time, or the meaning
of things she will drop into a conversation at random;
facts, history and emotion, all mixed together
in a chemical fusion that is no longer possible
to separate, no antiseptic boundaries
that render love tasteless and dry.
Right out of the dryer, her underwear
is warm, clinging, almost weightless.
Basically a triangle, but the angles
can be difficult to distinguish; what is up
or down, the sides, the inside from the out.
I look up and see her out back with the roses,
digging, wiping sweat from her eyes. She prunes,
rearranges, sees something not yet there.
Even after 47 years, my gaze is fixed.
She pauses to consider and glances up,
sees me in the window, tilts her head, smiling
at the smile she sees. I fold the triangle
into a smaller one, put it down,
then walk outside to the rose garden.
The breeze lifts her gold-grey hair.
Robert Strickland is a poet and musician living with his wife, Dena; his dog, Miles; and his cat, Petunia, in central Florida. His work has appeared in a number of fine journals, including Burning Word, Pirene's Fountain, and Sheila-Na-Gig, among others, including a forthcoming poem in the Broadkill Review. His family hails from the American Deep South, with roots in England and the Netherlands.