Sunday 9 October 2022

Five Poems by Sharon Waller Knutson

 


Temperatures in Triple Digits

 

The big black brahma blares his horn

to protest sore feet from dragging tons

of muscle and flesh across the desert.

He preaches and prays for rain.

 

The javelina sprawl in the sand and spa

like chemo patients in pain. Too hot to holler.

the coyote pack trail their tongues and tails

past the mesquite, cholla and saguaro.

 

With sweat staining their hide,

the does and bucks circle the water,

waiting their turn. The hammering ceases

as the flicker and my husband take a siesta.

 

I lie on cool sheets behind clay

walls, sipping lemonade and tea

over cubes of ice and reading Steinbeck

and drifting into delightful dreams

 

where I walk up and down the grassy

hills of my childhood in Montana,

the cobble streets of Mexico and take

the trolley through Toronto.


 

Father’s Day 2022

 

Static crackles on the landline

like crumpled up aluminum foil.

Is that you Ben? I whisper

picturing him calling on his cell

phone from whatever dimension

he is traveling through these days.

I pick up the wooden walking stick

my husband whittled from a Palo

Verde and hobble down the driveway,

holding onto my husband’s arm

as the hot air propels us to the road.

Feeling feet numbing, legs aching,

I start to head back to the house

when a balloon floats above, snagging

on a barrel cactus across the road.

He runs to retrieve the blue balloon

with black letters shouting

Happy Father’s Day, desperately

blowing air into the flattened balloon

like he is giving CPR to a hiker

we find collapsed on the road.


 

Watching Over Ben

 

At midnight I rise from my bed

and wander on weak wobbly legs

to the kitchen for a slice of cherry

pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream

wishing he was here to share it.

 

Rain slants down in sheets,

thunder roars like the cougars

and I look for him as lightning flashes

on the rock mountain shaped

like an Elephant, wanting to take

him a raincoat, an umbrella,

a dry change of clothes, a cup

of coffee and a cinnamon roll.

 

But my legs are even less reliable

than they were that humid July

day when one son took one arm

and the other the other arm

and helped me up the slope

to the mountain where I sat

on a rock while they carried

him to the top and left him there.

 

I know his spirit shed his skin

like the snakes and lizards

and he has no need for food

or water but still I want to take

him a bean burrito and watch

his blue eyes sparkle as the cheese

and refried beans drip down

his chin and through his fingers

like the last time we shared a meal.


 

All My Sorrows Soon Forgotten

 

The clock says 7 am and the sky

is grey and I am not sure if

it is morning or night until I see

my breakfast smoothie on the tray.

It looks like it is going to rain, I say.

I hope not. The last of my roofing material

just came in from Lowes, my husband

says as he jumps in the pickup truck.

 

In my inbox is an email from my cousin,

the brother I never had, the same size

as me when he was two and I was one.

His mother dressed us in identical

shorts, shoes, and socks and pushed

the double stroller all over Columbus.

Aren’t my twins adorable? she’d gush.

 

I tried calling but your line was busy,

he writes, now at 81. I lost my youngest

son on Memorial Day. Aneurism. 

I remember Shane, the same age

as Ben, both of our sons now dead.

I was supposed to go first, he writes.

The same thing I said when I called

him a year ago to tell him about Ben.

 

Lightning sizzles, thunder roars

like a jet taking off on the runway,

cows huddle under the ironwoods

and water drips and drizzles

then pours and floods the courtyard

as I wobble to the window to watch

while my husband loads shingles

on the truck bed in Mesa.

 

And my cousin in Billings makes plans

for a military service with his son’s

marine buddies in the fall and to cast

his son’s ashes in July on a hill between

Island Lake and Mystic Lake

where they hiked and caught rainbow trout.

My other son’s dog Buddy is there.

That’s where I want to be too, he says.


 

July 16, 2022

 

In a gown made of silk, satin and lace,

layered like her wedding cake,

our redheaded granddaughter

stands on her deck decorated

with purple and pink wildflowers

and western memorabilia. Wearing

black cowboy hats and boots,

matching tuxedos, camo vests

and orange ties her six-year-old son

and groom flank her on either side

as the sun slants through the Bing

Cherry Tree, Elephant Hart Plum Tree

and Dwarf Honey Crisp Apple Tree

in the suburb of Salt Lake City.

As she says her vows and tosses

her bouquet, we watch on our cellphone

from the Arizona desert, just a year

after sun sifted through the Idaho

pines as we placed white and red roses

on the grave of her great grandmother.

 


 

Sharon Waller Knutson is a retired journalist who lives in Arizona. She has published eight poetry books including My Grandmother Smokes Chesterfields (Flutter Press 2014,) What the Clairvoyant Doesn’t Say and Trials & Tribulations of Sports Bob (Kelsay Books 2021) and Survivors, Saints and Sinners and Kiddos & Mamas Do the Darndest Things (Cyberwit 2022.) Her work has also appeared recently or is forthcoming in Discretionary Love, Impspired, GAS Poetry, Art and Music, The Rye Whiskey Review, Black Coffee Review, Terror House Review, Trouvaille Review, ONE ART, Mad Swirl, The Drabble, Gleam, Spillwords, Muddy River Review, Verse-Virtual, Your Daily Poem, Red Eft Review and The Five-Two.

 

 

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