Stone-black river rushes beyond her window birdsong forgotten on the muck-soft shore. Naked branches, trees with splayed roots, sediment of seasons sail past ocean-bound. In her house of teaspoon-clattering-in-oatmeal bowl, cradled-cup-of-Folgers, fingers-puzzled-stiffly-into-place, palmed morning pills line yellow placemat, white cloth napkins wait-for-anyone. In her eyes, blue drains to milky water as my brother and I lift on both sides, a shadow-skin heavy with years. She lights at stories of music from an Austrian band, a polka with my father, laughs at the apple-pie-visit from the grandkids, shows us juice bottles in the refrigerator, the chili in Tupperware, teas in the cupboard. She imagines the great granddaughter who will come in the spring, now pear-sized and growing quick as a wink, strawberry-blonde like me, she says, who will love sleep and bed as her grandmother, like we all do in long dreams without names. If stars share God’s secrets let them whisper to heads at both ends of this river, blood and bone communion spilling into the delta.
Dawn Terpstra’s poetry appears in current and upcoming editions of Third Wednesday, Cathexis Northwest Press, Flying South, Meat for Tea: The Valley Review, and others. With master’s degrees in anthropology and family studies from Iowa State, she lives in Iowa where she leads a communications team.