He found what she wanted
to be remembered by, the lamps
she had made from birdhouses,
in lavish blues to match the birds
who like happiness did not come,
the copper pot that heated her water
for tea, the signs, reminders to herself,
the first letters lowercase and
the rest upper, a sort of reversal,
she once told him, to match the tide,
the way the sea threw back
what had been lost and rejected.
I am going, she said, through life
as a lowercase letter–
it’s my way of giving
the homeless a new habitation.
He had not replied, but now studied
her ciphers, pICK uP yOUR cLOTHES
bEFORE yOU fORGET yOUR iTALIAN,
yOU aRE Imperfectly bEAUTIFUL,
rEAD oVER yOUR hEAD.
None of them made any more sense
to him than the rattan rug on which she slept
or didn’t sleep depending on the rain.
He left the window open too
the way she imagined it,
and let the red sun prophesying bad weather
lick the bathroom floor.
On the ironing board which she had used
as her desk, he found his blue shirt,
the one she had taken off
before she stopped thinking
about what was still there.
Lois Marie Harrod’s 13th and 14th poetry collections, Fragments from the Biography of Nemesis (Cherry Grove Press) and the chapbook How Marlene Mae Longs for Truth (Dancing Girl Press) appeared in 2013. The Only Is won the 2012 Tennessee Chapbook Contest (Poems & Plays), and Brief Term, a collection of poems about teachers and teaching, was published by Black Buzzard Press, 2011. Cosmogony won the 2010 Hazel Lipa Chapbook Contest (Iowa State). She is widely published in literary journals and online ezines from American Poetry Review to Zone 3. She teaches creative writing at the College of New Jersey. Read her work on www.loismarieharrod.org.