Jul/Aug 2003 Poetry Special Feature

Six Word Poems

by Taylor Graham


Cleaning Out Her Room

A teenage sleep-shirt
with "HEAVENLY BODY" emblazoned
across the front;
a pale yellow sash
without its Easter frock
(how many years ago
the double-trouble-chocolate
egg-hunt, remember?);
a brick-red bandanna
meant to knot around the throat
(considered sexy
for 2 weeks of a daughter's
growing up);
a faded pink stuffed rabbit
with one ear gone
hunched in the corner
of the closet; half
a dozen mis-
matched socks.

Wash everything
she ever touched or wore.
Count it, fold it,
keep it safe
in a cardboard box.
As if that could make you
immune to loss.


Safe at Night

We build ourselves into mortared brick
behind dead-bolt locks and gates
that open to our password,
and we call it safe. But who's immune?
Not the jackrabbit, invisible
in last night's dark, whose bits of silver
fur I found this morning: scraps
of cloud scattered among new lupine
on the ridgetop, all that's left
after the great-horned owl stooped down
to carry him off to heaven.



Our neighbor has decorated for Easter.
That shiny-gray figure in a bio-
hazard suit (immune from what? I wonder)
at the edge of her yellow-brick path
is, I see now, a huge inflated rabbit
on a riding mower, towing a cart full
of enormous magenta eggs.

Since retirement, her notion of heaven
is remaking childhood memories
from whatever she happens to find on sale
at the home warehouse, the hospice
thrift shop, and the Saturday swap meet.
But what laid those huge magenta eggs?
And what might they hatch?



Rabbit caught in the headlights.
Before you, this eternal evening

whose every minute rises brick
by brick against escape.

All these aficionados of small-
talk. Your mother taught you,

no lady is immune from social
obligation. Heaven would be

a door opening into silence
that knows you but not your name.



Deer and rabbits run at large
in heaven in what used to be
your garden, the gate
off its hinges now for lack
of fixing.

Not your worry any more.
Only the immune-
defenses, the balance
of medications, clinic doors
opening like brick
walls across your life.

One blood-test to the next.
Was it a dream, when nothing
but roses
grew from graftings?

The harvest
of your life.


Heart to Heart

No woman is immune from this,
she tells her daughter.
The pink plush Easter bunny
(a famished rabbit
in disguise), the prom
and moonlight strolls, then double
rings to encompass a Colonial
brick, two stories with a circular
drive (just a grown-
up doll's house) which you'll call,
for awhile, Blue Heaven.

But in the end you'll learn,
no woman is immune.


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