Jul/Aug 2001  •   Poetry  •   Special Feature

When Becky Went to Paris

by Tom Dooley

When Becky Went to Paris

His whiskers grew that summer
like the corn he planted
the week after she left.
Sometimes it humbled him,
as he stood silent in the early morning,
surveying the acres of stubble
rolling out beneath his stewardship.

They took highway H to the airport,
flanking the north field. She clasped
the anticipation she couldn't share
tightly in her lap, and her eyes reflected
the blue sky where she soon would be.
The soil, their soil, was a choppy,
espresso brown, just after the tilling.

He waited for her until the ears hung
heavy, each stalk an eighth month pregnancy,
his beard full and collecting food.
He waited as she perched in the avenue
cafes, heady-scented men of all persuasions
drawn to her country goodness,
seducing her with whispers en francais.

He shaved the morning of the day she
returned, his face slick-smooth and ruddy.
The silos were full, the fields suddenly bare
where towering life had stood in parallel formation
a week before. She wore a sleeveless top, and when
she waved from the gangplank, he perceived
she had not shaved beneath her arms all summer.