By Katherine Soniat
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Additional info for A shared life: poems
Its light was enough to etch the landscape with design. The heavy ewe slept in the herd, never dreaming of barns, a future of holding-rooms. The wind had not called for an altar to blow on, candles for proof. There are no funerals on the plains, only cattle skulls that flare and vanish like towns on the desert edge. Page 77 Shame This little ostrich takes it in the neck from three drunk college boys. Out to prove themselves, fueled, aroused to scale the fence of the Animal Research Lab, they want to choke the life, to take the life, and feel the air leave one elegant, long windpipe.
Just her hand rising to the window in a fist, the two small girls staring by her elbow. Her hand, paused before the window that evening, would remain like muscle in memory, the girls' minds closing on the emptiness of that foster home she hardly believed in food, she didn't use words on them either. But something was happening as she watched the hired man disappear past the snow-drifted barn, the loft hay. Now the woman just seemed to know where he was headed, her hand knotted before the pane, her mouth whispering never.
I lay out black to be the soft-spoken, new-and-improved mother of the groom. Then I drop her lapis locket into a side pocket, the way she dropped into the dark years ago. As the plane takes off, I feel pressure of the sucked-back life. Like an old photograph growing lush with color, I fill in the bride decades old in me, the April girl in my mother turning white veiled so many springs from here all of us brides dispatched and squeezed in tight. The woman across the aisle, already into the next phase, reads Natural Childbirth: Select a Focal Point.
A shared life: poems by Katherine Soniat