Creek Crossing

in the voice of my late sister,
Marianna Leigh

Mother –
how unseemly
you appear; I'll
think of you
this way ... Gray hair
escaping
out from under
Dad's old tattered hat,
stick in hand
to pole each step,
while eddies whirl
about your feet, spin
and swirl as out
you go – wading
in the creek.

Sunshine spilling
down like honey,
willow branches greenly
sway. Were ever
a mother and daughter
so delinquent?
Forsaking dishes
in the sink and
leaving Father
at the plow: to
steal away
to shady banks
and splash.

Tell me once again
how Uncle John,
with fishing line and
school clothes on,
split out his seat –
there, in the mud –
chasing down
a perch
that slipped the hook.
Mother – why
must those old days
all recede, like
this creek
in a dry summer?

The shadow
of the opposite bank
enfolds you. The veins
branch down your meager arms
like twigs
in winter time.
More wrinkles cluster greedily
round your smile
than yesterday ... (I hadn't
seen these things
before).

The pastel sky
admits but one
small cloud – tiny,
just there,
beyond the timber line;
impassive, yes,
and white
as the doctor's smock,
this morning,
at the clinic, when
the stern voice
shaped
that quiet word:
cancer.

- Mark Scheel

____________________
 
Originally published in Heritage of Kansas
Used by permission of the poet


November 12, 1999 / John & Susan Howell / Wichita, Kansas / howell@kotn.org

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