- Woman at the Fence
I was out looking for it—
that was before all my chickens died,someone poisoned them—
was out looking for the dead line.Looked in thickets, the muck, and the woodsbut I can't find it, where the thing turns,
where there's a fringe of long soundsfrom the wisps that might be groans, curses,palpate palpate palpate shutthe door to that man's ear.
I cannot tell any more about the dooryard of love.
That was before my clouds died,just closed up one by one into flat white cambric and swallowed themselves.I wonder if somebody poisoned them, too.
You look at me as if my eyes were red, my eyes aren't red, I see fine,don't pick at myself except when I have to.
I don't know a single person here.Every morning my hair falls out in the brush,I feel very pretty,but that was thirty mirrors ago.
My children, all of them poisoned,but that may be my cats— [End Page 149]
They say on the field the moon will snap the small rocks into smoke.
Once I found a man still alive next to a fence,a boy, blond, his hair, dottedwith white tufts where he'd been knocked on the head.
I rocked his shoulder to sleepand inside, the painwidened to white.I let him go.
Tell you what,if you ever find that linejust don't tell me.
I wash my son's shirt and the sleeves fall off in the water. [End Page 150]
Daneen Wardrop is the author of a book of poetry, The Odds of Being, and the recipient of an NEA Fellowship, a Robert H. Winner Award from the Poetry Society of America, a Bentley Prize from Seattle Review, and a Gerald Cable Book Award. Her poems have appeared in Kenyon Review, the Iowa Review, Agni, Southern Review, Gulf Coast, TriQuarterly, and elsewhere. She has also authored three books of literary criticism, including Emily Dickinson and the Labor of Clothing (UPNE).