Barbara Crooker

GRIEF

is a river you wade in until you get to the other side. But I am here, stuck
in the middle, water parting around my ankles, moving downstream
over the flat rocks. I’m not able to lift a foot, move on. Instead, I’m going
to stay here in the shallows with my sorrow, nurture it like a cranky baby,
rock it in my arms. I don’t want it to grow up, go to school, get married.
It’s mine. Yes, the October sunlight wraps me in its yellow shawl,
and the air is sweet as a golden Tokay. On the other side,
there are apples, grapes, walnuts, and the rocks are warm from the sun.
But I’m going to stand here, growing colder, until every inch
of my skin is numb. I can’t cross over. Then you really will be gone.

SIBERIAN IRIS

All day long, in the cool grey light of an ice storm,
the tall wands of iris are quietly opening,
first the sepals, then the petals, one
after the other, a striptease in reverse, until
all six of them are fully open, their tongues
hanging out. They are every blue Monday,
they are the House of Blue Light, where
someone is singing something about longing,
someone is singing about the rain.

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