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Barbara Daniels


Fridays: Return to Sexual Purity

says the sign at the church I used to pass

three times a week on the way to the gym.

Yeah, no, people say now, agree

and disagree in one breath. Spring

still comes if they watch for it,

ghost-white dogwood, gold forsythia,

glory, glory, the redbud, pink cherry,

coat abandoned in a closet, scarf

fallen to the road-salted floor.

I step into spring like a blossoming

bindweed, a weed, yes, arrogant,

seeking. Does everyone have sexual

wounds? Men call bindweed

creeping Jenny. Morning glory,

some women say. Late at night

churches are quiet, doors locked,

pews shined like satin, dust embedded

in carpets, blue security light

like a star. A memory cuts. It’s a blade.

Another blooms like forgiveness.

In front of the church, a bus eases out.

Stars form the old constellations.

Sweet water flows in the ditch.

Apple Butter

I don’t like the word forb. Or legumes.

Who could eat them? I prefer jellybeans,

jelly weeping sweetness, beans sturdy

and plain. I like words everyone says:

tree, dog, milk, hello—a child’s garden

of basics I signed on to for life.

I lived in a world of chemistry sets,

vinyl, Clue. Now it’s a sack race.

I’m hobbled, slowed by a gunny sack

as I hop toward the finish line

past the corner where swings lift

and fall. I’m lonesome for what

used to be trouble: cholesterol a little

high, reading glasses, the need

to get out and walk. I wish I could

flip back pages to the time when all

the people I loved were alive. They

drove me crazy—the bad advice and

weird bits of food stuck in their teeth

as they told and retold pointless stories.

We used to get wonderful apple butter.

Now I can’t find it. It was so sweet.

Black Clock

Put your ear here, here your warm

mouth. I found you without the aid

of an instrument except that I built

a diving board, then jumped

toward your willing lips,

your hands. Your hazel eyes.

I’m a number on a black clock

but with an animal’s exquisite

selfishness. You’re an augur

watching flights of veering

blackbirds, portents in overgrown

gardens and broken trees.

A song loops back to us—penny whistle,

headlong dance. Waves spool in

through driving rain. My heart’s a beet

leaking red down your chest and arms.

Where I touch you, you stain. Give me

your hand. Let’s climb to the stabbing stars.


Barbara Daniels’ Talk to the Lioness was published by Casa de Cinco Hermanas Press. Her poetry has appeared in Qwerty, Image Journal, and Rogue Agent. She received four fellowships from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.


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