Crackers and Milk
The farmer leans his rickety chair
back against the shed. The lilacs
are in bloom. The grass, like the hair
curling around his ears, needs a trim.
The beans are in. Pearly clouds scud
across the horizon. He studies
the tremor of the aspen trees.
A melody glides past his thoughts.
He can see her hands with a golden ring
flitting across the ivory keys,
her upper body swaying to the rhythm,
her left foot tapping out the time.
He tilts his head and turns it left
. . . . . .
He thinks he’ll fix crackers and milk
for supper - or maybe have nothing at all.
Now he can hear her sing.
On a rambling road far from the sterile
service shops of the brand-name dealers
with their uniformed mechanics and coffee
for the customers flipping through old magazines
and dreading to hear what else needs repair
at outrageous hourly rates, there’s a single-bay
garage where the owner has known his customers
longer than faded tar paper’s been fastened
to his shack with odds and ends of wood.
To the right as you face the overhead door,
a section of staging, a scarred red drum
and a dented five gallon bucket are leaning
in scraggly grass near bushes that meet in an arch
over a yellow backhoe scaled with rust
like the age spots scattered on Porter’s arms.
To the left, a cluster of worn-out batteries,
rimless tires propped against a plow and
a blue-tarped boat docked in a sea of daisies
are serenaded by birds in an overgrown apple tree.
Inside, above the hydraulic jack,
an open box of Friskies
sits at a tilt on the windowsill
and the men in grease-stained shirts
huddled under the hood are talking talk about
tattoos on women, why that valve is leaking oil,
the parts they can get from that wreck out back,
and cuffing each other on the arm
for “savin’ us dang near two hundred bucks”.
after Giants by Jane Miller
The Deaconess Home in a stately Georgian building
has a generous lawn with hedges
on an elm-shaded street just out of the village center
and inside, by the windows shaded with brocade drapes,
about a dozen women,
having been domestic servants in the wealthiest homes of the town,
cautiously thread their way from upholstered chairs in the sitting room
to the long mahogany table.
Ethel promptly bows her head - she firmly believes this is required,
that daily poached eggs
deserve thanks - and would she had a relative - although
she has acquaintances here - and her Holy Bible - with verses
that she marks with a flutter of yellow ribbons
and faithfully carries close to her breast
like the photo of her parents she pins every day to her dress
then wraps in a long woolen coat to keep the three of them warm.