Linda Drach

Four Dead In Woods, One Missing

 

SARAH JOHNSON 

2013 – 2020

Daddy said the woods would be like Eden.

It was dark and I was scared

of bears. Mama said we would all be safe. 

She read to us. Bible stories. 

That didn’t help. 

The Bible is confusing: like, how could Satan 

start out as an angel? 

Singing felt better. We sang 

this little light of mine 

I’m gonna let it shine

until Daddy said it was time

to be quiet.

 

JACOB JOHNSON

2007 – 2020

 

Family camping trip, 

my ass. 

 

We pitched two gray tents 

under tall dark pines –

one for the women, one for us 

men. We roasted some hot dogs

and he showed me how 

to make a fire, but mostly

I was bored.    

 

I regret all the things 

I didn’t get to do. It totally sucks 

being dead this soon, but

at least I didn’t grow up 

to be like him.

 

RUTH JOHNSON 

1987 – 2020

 

My precious girls played 

down by the water, a tea party

of pinecones and stones.

 

My sweet boy 

stayed close

to keep them safe.

 

I was pregnant 

praying constantly 

I wouldn’t lose another. 

 

The church fathers told me 

they were His to give 

and take. 

 

I couldn’t see it. But I

can see it now:  Our God

was a masculine god.


 

ABIGAIL JOHNSON 

2015 – 2020

 

Mama, I’m a leaf now. 

I feel like sunshine. 

Pink was my favorite color

but now I am green. 

I can’t talk to you, but I sing

all day. I think I am music. 

Do you sing with me? Maybe

you are the wind.

My Mother Says Her Life Has No Purpose

 

She thinks of herself 

as a mixing bowl, a place 

of origination. Days are OK

but nights are the worst. The silence 

holds everything now.

 

I call but she never calls back. 

She needs me to read her mind. 

I try to meet her frequency.

Reaching deep, I keep 

returning

 

to the stone in my throat 

and the dark thing that lies 

beneath. I call and I call –

a yellow snapdragon

jaws wide open.

I am actively involved in community writing through the nonprofit Write Around Portland, as both participant and volunteer writing workshop facilitator for adults in low-income housing and justice-involved youth. My poetry has been published in the Pacific Northwest journal VoiceCatcher.

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