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Grey Sparrow Journal

Issue 30, July 31, 2017
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GONE TO BONE 

 

Driving through a storm

in the old Buick

tires slipping and gripping

in the snow

on Thanksgiving night

winter in Minnesota

wrapped in

what they used to call a tent coat

the only thing that fit any more

seven months pregnant

I said to my husband

I hope this isn’t a false alarm.

I hope to God it is, he said.

 

The docs came in

three of them lined up in their

white coats.  Are you telling me

that my son is dead? I screamed.  My

husband says this never happened.

 

Little boy who had

only ten hours of life

I buried a silver bracelet

with you.  I want him to

have something from

his mother, I said, and

we were far from home, it was

the only precious thing I had.

Now, I see in my mind’s eye sometimes

at odd moments, unexpected,

a tiny wrist

gone to bone, and with

a Siamese silver link bracelet

twined around it, and gripped in

baby fingers that never

had time to hold anything else.


                                  -Marie Sheppard Williams


A FALL 

 

 I.

“Sit in this chair on the right, please.”

I sit.

“Do you solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole

truth, nothing but the truth?”

“I do.”

But who could tell that whole?

I listen, half-an-ear,

to the wicked, lying little truths:

as they come whispering out,

tails between their legs,

like curs that never did have names or love:

He was cruel to me mentally, Your Honor.

Any psychological equivalent of He Beat Me 

is acceptable,

my lawyer says.

 

II.

The truth is that

we stole together once.

One bright October day in 1953 or 4

we drove a car across a ridge in an orchard

and came upon a tree laden,

laden, can you see it? with red apples.

Experimental, the sign said.

Quick as shared thought,

and not a word,

we leaped out and robbed that tree.

 

Oh, listen, we ate those apples

all that bitter winter.

Their taste was sweet and sharp

with memory of theft.

Was that the sin?

And I shed tears at last

for the dim remembered sweet,

winter-long, of apples,

stolen in the fall.


                                   -Marie Sheppard Williams