- Public Sale, 1943
after the painting by Andrew Wyeth
Although his truck hasn’t been started in days, the road to the house is a mess of upturned dirt, tire tracks from those coming and going.
In their farmhouse, barren cupboards and unswept floors. The birdsong lace curtains stiff from rainwater. Wife dead three months.
He gives up the curtains and birds. He can’t recall how the sheer fabric would flutter about the open windows.
The apron with batter on it from her last cake, and the image of her coaxing flour through the sifter— flour powdering the yellow bowl. He gives up the bowl,
sifter, and Sunday dresses, here in this valley where strangers take from him things he must give up. She would never have agreed to this.
He saves her taste for green apples, though, and her mother’s doilies. Her desire for a son, he holds that. He keeps her cheeks that blushed
when he caught her with the sickly calf in the parlor, feeding it a bottle, and whispering words into its ear. He never asked her for those words, but those, too, he keeps.
Come summer, her cornflowers will bloom white, pink, blue. [End Page 531]
janée j. baugher is the author of two poetry collections, The Body’s Physics and Coördinates of Yes. Her writing has been published in The Writer’s Chronicle, Boulevard, and Nimrod. She was awarded a 2017 Dorland Mountain Arts Colony nonfiction residency.