Two Poems by Barbara Caceres
In The Days That Follow
Gravity pulled color from the Irises
into soil so heavy the garden became a pond of mud
where cardinals flailed their wings and died.
You watched from the kitchen window
your breath in the June morning air
fogging the glass,
your tears filling the sink.
Tonight you would not feel the long bones of his legs
and thin skin of his knees bumping against yours,
would not warm to the outline of his body
nor hear the gentle click of the bathroom light switch at 2 am
or feel the comforting rock of the mattress as he repositions himself.
But in the days that follow
the soil would return color to the Irises
birds would come to nest and feed
and the old hickory would raise its branches in victory
against a backdrop of great Smoky Mountains.
You’ll admire its stoic resiliency
seeing your own path in its branches
The years with him play out in your thoughts
reel after reel of life
good and fine and rich in its tapestry.
And even the few hurts and regrets
small as grains of sand
are wrapped and polished into pearls.
And in the glare of a summer sunrise
breaching in slow motion like a giant yellow Orca
you can sometimes see him
sitting in the chair by the window,
the soft sound of the morning paper being pressed and folded,
as straight and deliberate as the crease in his trousers,
as welcoming and loved as the warm heaviness of his hand in yours.
The harvest is bitter
weeds that choke and prevent
healthy growth have plagued her garden
crowding out the good
with spider webs of undergrowth that strangulate.
She sees no other way
but to flee this land
stomping her boots in to the toxic green leaves
in a final fit of impotent rage.
The new land looks promising,
fecund, dark and moist.
She has no idea that seeds from the old garden have stowed away
in the tiniest crevices of her shoes,
in the impossible seems of her overalls,
even under the warm folds of her breasts.
At harvest time she’ll curse the soil
and search the horizon again for new land.
Barbara Caceres lives in Seattle and completed a nonfiction writing program at the University of Washington in 2011. She travels to the South each year to visit her father in Milledgeville, Georgia, and aunt in Knoxville, Tennessee. Her aunt recently lost her beloved after more than 70 years, and “In The Days That Follow” was written for her.