by Laura Sweeney
For the French teacher who drank herself
into oblivion; for the nurse who couldn’t
go through the courts because she was
a converted Muslim; for the doctor who fled
to Britain when her husband impregnated
a teen; for the client at the tax desk whose
fiancé changed his mind; for all the women
caricatured, reduced to one-size.
I have bruises too, a smattering, and I know
it doesn’t make sense, these women should be
living down the street in homes with lovely
gardens, ripe, green, tart, burning bright and orange
like the sun. But instead are messages in purple
and blue. How can I describe this love song?
For women who smile, as they say yes, yes, yes
to a night of wine, poetry, or short stories, voices
seldom heard in a city filled with nasty things.
Make no mistake, despite tactics and anxieties,
when this woman falls her work stands, even if
she is a late bloomer, half-life, half-light,
no longer coasting along a road life. She grows
a thick skin, coaxed and cajoled, ceramic
sunflowers in her eyes, a riotous vine gone
cacophonous, a cornerstone who shimmers
like a river reversing.
Laura Sweeney facilitates Writers for Life in central Iowa. She represented the Iowa Arts Council at the First International Teaching Artist’s Conference in Oslo, Norway. Her recent poems appear in Hawaii Pacific Review, Split Rock Review, Appalachia, Tipton Poetry Journal, Hedge Apple, Pilgrimage, Edify Fiction, and the anthologies Nuclear Impact; Beer, Wine, & Spirits; and Vanguard: Exercises for the creative writing classroom.