Endowed in perpetuity by the Glenna Luschei Fund for Excellence

Friday Night

Sometimes the light from her kitchen
almost touches mine
and her shadow falls
through trees and peppermint
to lie down at my door
like it wants to come in.

Never mind that on Friday nights
she slumps out her own torn screen
to cry on the stoop.
And don't ask about the reasons.
She pays her penalties for weeping.
Emergency Room:
Eighty dollars to knock a woman out.
And there are laughing red-faced neighbor men
who lay down their hammers
to phone the county.
Her crying tries them all.
Don't ask for reasons
why they do not collapse
outside their own tight jawbones
or the rooms they built
a tooth and nail at a time.

Nevermind she's Mexican
and I'm Indian
and we have both replaced the words
to the National Anthem with our own,
or that her house smells of fried tortillas
and mine of Itchko and sassafras.
Tonight she was weeping in the safety of moonlight
and red maples.
I took her a cup of peppermint tea,
and honey,
it was fine blue china
with marigolds growing inside the curves.
In the dark, under the praying mimosa
we sat smoking little caves of tobacco light,
me and the SeƱora of Hysteria who said
Peppermint is every bit as good as the ambulance.
And I said, Yes. It is homegrown.

Prairie Schooner, Vol. 57, No. 3 (Fall 1983), pp. 44-45