Comingled blood, dark as windfall cherries, spattered lichen-streaked stones: grandfather (dead of foolishness), still-born Baby Anne—your family plot. And you might have sprung, angle and bone, from that corner yew, dark, with dark lank hair while I was mere summer folk, city girl—pudgy, pale, whiskey-colored ringlets. But on that garland branch, we pricked thumbs, became sisters.
Envy grew green as island pines. Your narrow saltbox: high-ceilinged rooms, chamber pots beneath iron beds, stone-floor kitchen with hand pump and black, wood-burning stove—matriarchal dragon dominating the room, captured me. Your grandmother, brown and bony as yourself, knew things. I trotted behind as she gentled Sunday’s chicken. Ax arced, shell-carved eye stilled while deranged feathers convulsed in mad, mute tarantella. I was baptized in blood. You hungered only for trolley rides, glass revolving-doors, luncheons on the mezzanine, until you turned fifteen—one umbrella step ahead as always—left for New Orleans, a married woman.
Island wives lashed tongues, raised long, red welts on your memory: Got herself in trouble. Uh-huh. I alone knew it wasn’t love or even lust that lured you; it was city lights. Had I been offered spells and incantations, I’d have gone too.
Ann Howells’s poetry appears in Borderlands, Spillway, THEMA and in anthologies: Goodbye, Mexico and The Southern Poetry Anthology, Volume VIII: Texas (Texas Review Press), Pushing the Envelope and Texas Weather Anthology (Lamar University Press) and elsewhere. She has edited Illya’s Honey since 1999, recently going digital (www.IllyasHoney.com) and adding a co-editor. Publications include: Black Crow in Flight (Main Street Rag), Under a Lone Star (Village Books), Letters for My Daughter (Flutter), and Cattlemen & Cadillacs, as editor, (Dallas Poets Community). Ann served as President of Dallas Poets Community for four years and as Treasurer for many more.
FLASH GLASS: A MONTHLY PUBLICATION OF FLASH FICTION, PROSE POETRY, & MICRO ESSAYS
Cover Image: "Yellow Red Wine Glasses, Paris"