|Oct/Nov 2017 Poetry Special Feature|
Image excerpted from Betrayed by Roe LiBretto
What they said about Miss Martha
They said she worked herself to death
and I would believe it except for all the times
I saw her in bliss, holding a tomato up to the sky
the red glow of it lighting her face like a lantern.
She farmed alone. Not a large farm. Perhaps
fifty parallel rows of truck crops
tended like children, their leaves rubbed
like small heads, her fingers raised to inhale
their precious living scents. They said she
cried herself to sleep, so lonely for the man
who never showed, the family that failed
to become, isolated on those few acres
never once seeing the ocean, the tides
rolling in. Some kinds of people think
that everyone wants what they want.
But I knew her. Her body was knotted
with brown woman's muscle, but inside
she was smooth as a new tilled field
at dawn, level and fertile, ready to yield
to seeds and sun and rain and clouds and all.
Where to from here?
The complete picture includes everyone
who ever lived. Your doppelgangers
viewed from space, tiny as you are.
Moon pulls tide. Lantern sun and shadow moon
pass in silent sky. The witches work to bind
the worst among us. Sage and knots in twine.
And on we go, eagerly assuming parallels
between this life and what comes next.
Well-loved faces. Fire and flowers and wine.
Doubts and evil doused in rushing water,
all paths level, paved in gold or close enough.
But crop the picture. Use scissors or knife.
Zoom in on the scraps. The closer you get,
the less familiar. Not at all like what you've imagined.
Nothing like what you've been told.