by Zachary B. Johnston
the stretch bone cab hauls
us fast from our swamp
down a pocked rain-wetted
highway to Ebenezer cemetery.
We pass her yard. The cypress
there stands straight, but the
house she kept sags on its blocks,
the weight of dying just settled
in its boards. My last visit, she
could still climb stairs. Her nurse
gone home, I sat on the bed’s edge.
Her radiation burns like Chicago,
walking to the bakery on St. Paul
or outside the door for a smoke.
I asked what did she expect from
dying? She said it’s uncomplicated;
we’re like the lilacs, we odor a while
then aches our burden stem. That’s
chemo talking. The car stops. We’re all
her students, come to learn this lesson.
We brace open the hatch and draw
her out of the long car.
Zachary B. Johnston has lived his entire life in Northeast Louisiana; born in Jonesboro, he currently resides in West Monroe, a stone’s throw from the banks of the Ouachita River. Currently, he is pursuing an MA at the University of Louisiana at Monroe. His work is deeply rooted in place, the tragic and the Southern persona.