Bio Note: One poem included here laments the loss of a friend, my first friend loss since living in Lassen. Another poem has ties to my native home of Vermont. Vermont continues to live big in my heart. I’m busy with a new manuscript “Rucksacks for the Leaf Cat.” Pleased to have poems out in the latest issue of Suisun Valley Review, Voices, by Cold River Press and in Artemis.
New England Farmhouse
Down from Bob Ovitt’s place, two sisters linger at their clothesline to watch as the farmer’s two hundred eighty-pound body is hoisted into a flatbed and then driven in a scrawl of dust around the bend. These sisters, legendary for their efficiency, are later asked by the town-clerk to sort through their neighbor’s papers, a task each accomplished after their husbands died—one from a tractor spill, the other from a virus. For years they’ve lived together in a harmony of thought. October both amble up to Ovitt’s farmhouse to sort his papers. Etta, the eldest, shoulders open the door. They look around before attacking mounds of mail on the cider-ringed table. Outside, winds churn poplar leaves, causing Etta to ponder their sixty-two-year-old neighbor, who lay dead days before anyone suspected. She’s more attuned to the quirks of fate and visualizes Bob gagging on a chicken bone, his ruddy hands hacking at his throat to dislodge the shard. She wonders if the draft around her shoulders is his rank breath: if the dead, out of longing, draw close, waiting for someone to tug them back. Her sister extracts from an envelope, a letter Bob wrote but didn’t mail, and reads it aloud: Chopped down trees in the north pasture to increase my view of your place. Still, no word from you. Etta covers her mouth and indicates No More. She’s not mentioned Bob’s indiscretion, how he cupped her buttocks when she carried up his supper.
Originally published in The Adirondack Review, 2021
The Odyssey of Defined Things
Our community is losing its members— blackbirds drifting off into the sky, their volumes of light left behind. There is continuity in this passage. For what are we but the framework of the defined, articulated in momentary time? The rueful hurt of it all. The face that once lit a corsage of other faces, now lights candle-stars.
©2022 Dianna MacKinnon Henning
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