by Pat Daneman
There’s no more work to be done in this weather. Come inside.
Turn the radio on; let it play all winter. Reacquaint yourself
with the feel of your head uncovered. Take your wool sweater
from the doorknob—button in. What is that song
that always makes you smile? Words that taste like ice
cream on your tongue. What is that melody that always
makes you turn the radio up loud? Music with hills in it,
sunflowers, open gates. How you and she used to dance.
You in your socks, slipping on the linoleum,
she with eyes closed, fingertips matched to yours.
Who was she? Now and then you thought you knew.
Now and then you’d be sharing a pot of tea, laughing
at a newspaper story and she would do something
with her hand or a tilt of her head and become unfamiliar,
exciting. Why do beds insist on being made? Yesterday
you bent to lift a blanket from the floor. Something caught
your eye. Cocooned in feathery dust, almost unreachable, one
of her earrings, gold, in the shape of a star. You can picture her
wearing it, can’t remember if she’d ever said it was lost.
by Pat Daneman
Every star is a ghost, the new moon
a more recent ghost. The river
is a ghost because there has been
no rain since summer. It wears
a necklace of fish bones, the stench
of our sins. We raise our forks and fill
our mouths with ghosts. We raise
our glasses and drink them full
of ghosts. After the meal
we send the children outside;
the door bangs against the slow legs
of the ghosts who follow them.
Old and newborn ghosts look down
on our gray heads, spotted hands,
fingers too frail for their heavy rings.
Matches hiss, smoke spools
to the ceiling. We pass the jug
around again. The ghosts
of all the dogs we remember
from childhood nuzzle our feet,
nose the carpet for scraps.
by Pat Daneman
His early love for her
was like a piece of dark,
heavy furniture. It took
too much room and, no matter
where it was, it was always
in the way. She liked him,
too, and she liked smoking
and open-toed shoes. They married.
They stood in a rolling field
where long grass swept their shins,
and red and blue kites swept
the sky, slashing each other
like daggers. They ate oatmeal
and eggs, and later, as their joints
turned to stone, they plucked
gray hairs from their bowls
and let egg yolks harden
on their chins. Sitting
in the front of a bus one afternoon,
she saw him below, leaving
a store. He had a hand deep
in a paper bag, digging for something
he was going to eat. He felt her
looking at him and looked up,
but the glare of the sun wiped her face
from the glass. The light changed
and the bus turned the corner.
Pat Daneman’s poems have been published or are forthcoming in
the Spoon River Poetry Review, Poem, Midwest Quarterly, The
Pedestal Magazine, Blood Orange Review, RE:AL, Blood Lotus
Journal, Inkwell, and other small magazines. She has a master’s
degree in creative writing from Binghamton (NY) University and
works as a creative director in Kansas City.
On “Come Inside,” “Thanksgiving,” and “The Story”:
I wrote fiction before I wrote poetry, so many of my poems have a
strong narrative element. I start a poem as I would a story—with
a character or image that intrigues me—and then see where it goes.
I think poems need mystery to successfully engage readers.
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Apple Valley Review:
A Journal of Contemporary
Volume 3, Number 1
Copyright © 2008
by Leah Browning, Editor.
All future rights to material
published in the Apple
Valley Review are retained
by the individual authors