Nebraska Center for Writers

VIOLETS
by Deb Walz

Miniature pinwheels of lavender,
   bunches I gathered under Grandma’s clothesline
   then tied with a hair ribbon
that had been my mother’s as a girl.
I blew in and out of Grandma’s fresh laundry,
making up stories
I told to myself and her dog Pup.
   Gypsies, Grandma called the tiny flowers,
   left to run rampant
through our yard and garden.
Rolling down a lush grass hill,
I’d grab up as many
as my child’s hand could hold
   on the way to the bottom.

Reprinted with permission
from Plains Song Review, 2008.
Copyright © 2008
by Deb Walz


GENETIC DISPOSITION
by Deb Walz

Three paternal great uncles
   reared on fire and brimstone
couldn’t escape the tilt from the elbow to the lips.
   I think they all died with a telephone to their ear.

My father hid Cutty Sark bottles in the toilet tank,
wore sunglasses at eight p.m. and
disrupted my slumber parties
with his slurred jokes and stumbled gait.
Eventually, shrunken and shaking,
found his way down a grim path to the twelve steps.

You’d think I’d have known better.
But I have knotted the piercing thirst on my tongue,
seared it with a burning cross,
valiantly attempted to blot up the hunger with
counseling, acupuncture and salve.

When I saw the fangs of the wild dog
rise up before me,
I oiled my body with cloves and lavender,
shook out the ghosts,
and opened my throat to the scream that never comes.

Reprinted with permission
from Plains Song Review, 2008.
Copyright © 2008
by Deb Walz


LINEAGE
by Deb Walz

The parched field of seed corn remains,
ditch lined by goldenrod and thistle.
Dirt faintly edges the road
where a driveway once led
to a paint bare clapboard farmhouse,
woven with morning glories and grape vines.

Barn, corncrib, chicken coop, outhouse.
Haunting generations gathered the guinea eggs,
climbed the rafters, swarmed to the root cellar.

Howling wind , now a mourner
of milk swelled breasts, hungry children,
withered dead.

Only the Zacheus tree abides,
branches stretched upward,
as blessing,
as prayer.

Reprinted with permission
from Plains Song Review, Vol IV, 2002
Copyright © 2002
by Deb Walz


LEGACY OF IMAGES
by Deb Walz


Porcelain hands,
veined stone blue,
a single strand of weathered gold
adorns the third finger,
cradle this slate spongeware bowl.

What matter of porridge,
or hearth stirred stew
did she fancy?

Rosemary, dill,
a touch of lemongrass,
great grandmother's recipe
woven as fine silken thread,
through the generations.

Potions whipped from the dusky iron kettle
by river birch spoon
onto cobalt and pallid tin plates.

Robust, eager children, stomachs growling,
scurry to the hand hewn pine table,
impatient to fill their bellies.

A hush, then folded tiny hands,
only the howling wind and horse's whinny
echo behind the solemn words
of thanks.

Reprinted with permission
from Plains Song Review, Vol IV, 2002
Copyright © 2002
by Deb Walz


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