Rose Mary Boehm

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A while back she left me

She did it gently, slow at first.Artwork by Gene McCormick
Moved into that small room
in the A wing of our local hospital.
They have an annex for those ‘cases’.
Don't mention the A word, don't summon
the demon by his true name. Each afternoon,
visiting hours, I again become her suitor.
The way I wooed her once.
She calls me by my rival’s name,
but when I hold her close she leans her head
against mine and we fall in love.


Snow on the Altiplano

The woman sits, working quietly,
the spindle dances.
The adobe house has no windows.
She needs no light.

Spins the wool gathered
from the small alpaca herd.
She is only fifty.
Deep furrows in the brown
of her hard-skinned face.

She teaches her five-year old nieta
the old arts of spinning and weaving
when the child isn't out tending the lifestock,
baby sister tied onto her back.

Her daughter’s husband beats
her when he's been drinking.
She spins.
A condor feather stuck into the hat.
A white man gave it to her when she'd
been so young, and he so tall, so pale.

Overnight white has covered the pastures.
She follows the sound of keening,
a mother alpaca trying to animate
her newborn.

In the stark morning light
her head on the alpaca’s belly,
under her poncho the crio.
A smile on her face.


A German-born UK national, Rose Mary Boehm lives and works in Lima, Peru. Author of two novels and a poetry collection (TANGENTS), her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in U.S. poetry reviews.