|Nebraska Center for Writers|
Humidity clings to begonias|
weighing down their already fat leaves.
Day dawns searching for the newspaper
found bound tightly in a rubber band,
damp under the browning cedar tree.
Headlines sob: Beheading in Iraq,
First Execution in 80 Years,
Murder-Suicide in Iowa.
Thunder rolls in from the west, distant
slow percussion of disapproval.
Doves add their hunted, haunting dirges
and a speckled robin's egg lies cracked
near geraniums dying themselves
from an errant shot of weed killer.
Nearby convent bells toll a call to prayer
before the lightning strikes.
MERBABE IN MALTA
A naked toddler crawls from her stroller
on the promenade beside the sea,
brown curls and sandals on either end
of her tiny body.
Her mother plops her into a pink
inflatable baby boat,
and when she begins to weep,
her cries are caught on the salty wind
far into the deep where they are heard.
She will not be consoled,
cannot speak her needs.
Others speculate: she’s hot, she's thirsty,
her skin burns, a jelly fish stung her bare bottom.
The seaweed shivers.
The slippery rocks crumble.
Hating the water so close to the shore,
she longs to return to the fishy depths
where lives bestemmer, ocean grandmother,
in whose home her mother chose legs
and walked out of the blue ocean,
where the baby left the pink scales
and shimmering tail she now remembers
only in fragments of visions
reflected in the surf surrounding her.
CHILDREN IN THE EARTH
Lavender irises grow oddly wild
in the pioneer cemetery
south of Wayne.
My friends exhume the antique bulbs
for reburial in their own garden plots.
I don't dig
fearing the madmothers of the plains
forced to leave their babies and hearts
in this land with few flowers,
who wait through seasons of hot wind
and brittle leaves
and the crystal stillness of winter
when their children spring from the good earth,
briefly and colorfully alive,
blooming playfully by their chalky stones.