How Was Your Delivery?
My mother’s pale arms waved us home
in the firefly dusk up other steps
of another house with a screened-in porch.
There, my parents read their books
and offered loose comments so infrequently,
I should have held their words the way
you have kept this picture-proof.
In your thick-belted and brown uniform,
your camouflage of ordinary,
you ran up the weed-bearded walk,
dropped the package and took the picture,
evidence of having been there,
before returning to your own country
of stacked boxes and long routes.
I stood out back in the amber autumn light,
taking a whiff of dying mums and acorn dust.
You have done an excellent job, beyond refute,
whereas I delivered my children and now
they are wordless and prone on their beds upstairs
waiting for the rest of their lives.
They are perfect, lost in their transit, delayed,
fragile, not to be bent, containing the usual hazards.
I rip this package open; in it is a book
I don’t remember ordering about our fraying earth.
Painting the Barn Red
I like how the barn takes the color.
The black weathervane above grows darker
spinning its compass, cocky rooster.
The barn brightens my white house.
Then, one by one, our children leave
the house as it will someday leave them,
They go out to the newly-painted barn
and spend their hours there,
as if something on the inside has
changed hue as well. I can see
their cell phones glow in the dark barn
as lanterns must have flushed the frontier plain.
When they come in, finally, they are unfamiliar.
Their eyes hide, their hands sink in pockets.
What? they ask, their voices deeper yet.
I wonder too, and I ask, What?
Elizabeth Crowell grew up in northern New Jersey and has a B.A. from Smith College in English Literature and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing/Poetry from Columbia University. She taught college and high school English for many years. She lives outside of Boston with her wife and teenage children.