While I wait for him I try to solve a puzzle:
four by four, six boxes filled, every row and column
must sum to twenty-two; I can only use
the numbers zero through nine, each one, one time.
Like a rat trapped in a maze, I am compelled to worry
at it. If I succeed, he will love me. This is how girls
reckon the lacewing petals they rip from daisies.
(If I succeed I will have written ten numerals.)
Twenty-two was the perfect age after daisies,
before patience grayed me like chalk dust. Then, I was busy
solving puzzles with two moving parts: where they went,
how to prevent the fluids from greasing the wrong wheel.
This teaser looks easy enough. I list my options,
pencil four numbers in, tot up eight sums. Now, I am thirty-six;
he is forty-two. Sixty minutes unravel and repeat
in false starts, wrong combinations, he loves me nots.
Every Mother’s Little Book Of Calm
Unappeasable as a cut thumb,
my daughter’s gashed
mouth mines the doorway
while the bloom rages across my cheek.
If I tried to count to ten, I would explode
by five. Sometimes, we mothers have to lie
like soldiers in the narrow cots
we made up ourselves. I need a charm
against her crossed arms and squat form.
I drop down, haul the arches
of each foot onto the opposite
thigh: lotus position.
This is for meditation, I say.
She out-waits me, mongoose eyes
sniping for snake eggs. I spin
up onto my kneecaps,
begin to walk on their stumps.
My bobbing head comes to her chin;
I teeter like an amputee
with one wooden leg
and one old crutch, both worn
to the rounds of ancient bones.
And this is for fun.
Her laughter is a fat leech,
bleeding the moment. She closes
her mouth, unfolds herself into a flower,
stretches again for the sun.
Fingers of flame release confetti
upwards and into the moon. The smoke
marries the wind; they sprinkle the grass
with the ashes of their kisses, spread
the restless scent of green wood burning.
I lean on one tree, strung with pumpkin
lights like golden apples. The guests
stand before the bonfire’s bright hand;
their tiny pitchforks impale
marshmallows, angels found wanting.
All appear in silhouette, a cast of shadows
in a fall passion play. I know you by profile –
the brattish cowlick, the boxer’s stance.
We huddle around the warmth that fuels love,
the glow of recognition in the gloaming.
British born Anna Evans now resides in New Jersey where she
is raising two daughters, a dog and a hamster. She has been
rejected by numerous online and small literary journals and even
accepted by a few, including The Formalist, Verse Libre
Quarterly, The Edison Literary Review and Mad Poets Review. She
is President of the Burlington County Poets in New Jersey, and a
founder member of the Quick And Dirty Poets. She occasionally
dreams in Iambic Pentameter.