Hens and Chicks
My rubber roses, my cabbage flesh.
To think I stood there watching. All of you
thick, wax-limbed, purple-cornered,
ground-hugging. My rosettes.
Never wondering what came after-- offsets, cousins, progeny.
I stayed with you when you were sick.
I listened when school took it away—
the aloof look,
the difference between.
All my rubber roses tilt
toward the ocean, end in a bed of sand.
To think of hand-holding,
the grimy fist, urine-stained underwear.
Or how old it is when alpine meadows bloom on a moment of dew.
I lie awake
inside my skin
wondering how the pale pane
shines with light—has morning
taught the poppy~~
plaited, wound around itself,
how to come undone?
If it is a trick,
can I learn the peach tones,
or if it is too late for that--
the sickness in my cells,my defense against—
can I learn
who taught the umbrella
that black undertaker~~It required a bag.
Judith Skillman’s 13th collection, “The Phoenix, New and Selected Poems 2006 – 2012” is forthcoming from Dream Horse Press. She’s the recipient of an Eric Mathieu King Award from The Academy of American Poets. Her work has appeared in Poetry, FIELD, The Iowa Review, Prairie Schooner, Journal of the American Medical Association, and elsewhere. Skillman has taught for City University, University of Phoenix, and Richard Hugo House. Currently she teaches at Yellow Wood Academy, Mercer Island, Washington. Visit www.judithskillman.com