Bio Note: Here’s one for July, partly about celebrating the Fourth (which connects to the theme of Freedom), partly about celebrating my late husband. . . .
How could you leave your family? My father couldn’t understand, but I’ve come anyway, a week and a half in the foothills of Virginia, to write and work. I’m learning the names of southern trees: Post Oak, smaller than White, but the same round-lobed form; Pin Oak, short pin-like twigs cluttering the horizontal branches, making an ID easy in winter; and Chestnut Oak, whose leaves are more chestnut than oak, thriving in dry rocky soil. I’ve been working in some stony ground myself, too long from my desk, never enough time to write. But now, I’m away from my children and husband, that good man, who still wants me in his bed after nearly thirty years. Here, a cardinal burns in the hedgerow, a red coal— Last July, we watched the fireworks at a fairgrounds in another small Virginia town. We brought our eastern cynicism to the medley of patriotic tunes, the slide show with Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan. The crowd oohed and aahed as golden chrysanthemums, huge dandelions, fountains of red, white and blue stars bloomed in the black field of the sky. So easy to forget how fireworks were invented, how they mimic rocket fire, bombs, artillery bursts. Just when you think they’re over, they come and come again. Who knew that our bodies could generate their own heat? Who knew how many kinds of oak trees grew in the woods? Who knew how many names there were for love— Ironing a Shirt, Making a Sandwich, Changing the Oil?
Originally published in The Patterson Poetry Review
©2022 Barbara Crooker
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