by Terri Lynn Cummings

In small town Oklahoma
alleyways run long and straight
like children. They smell
from grime and last suppers

claim the husks of snakes
and pricks of stickers
Fences trade chains for boards
as houses spread like blisters

in knots of neighborhoods
where parents puff a path
to cancer. The womb of August
laboring to be delivered in fall

pants with mid-day fever
Feet free from school ignore
the sun torched streets for darker
avenues hidden from windows

I rule these threads of gem and ruin
Three p.m. and scenes flicker
behind fences like minnows
Eight doors down, a woman

sits on a step, keening
Her cries shake me from myself
as they rise like the scream
of a rabbit caught in a dog’s jaws

Sorrow strikes me with its hand
Breath fails as if fingers
crush a windpipe. Shock
makes me simple, a mouse

lost in the maze of her agony
Years later, I learn she had lost
a child. I slip on my life
with my shoes and walk

the blank-faced road of reality
fist her sorrow in the labyrinth
of my heart where it waxes
and wanes with my own

Illya's Honey Literary Journal

Copyright by Dallas Poets Community. First Rights Reserved. All other rights revert to the authors.