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By J S Absher

Heavier than she can ever
remember, the rain is falling in spades.
On her roof enormous hands
            pound boom-lay, boom-lay.

This is her mother’s belly, an oven
stoked with wet kindling, a sway
in the rockabye of a tree. She rests
            where ramblers wait.

Dressed in a gold neck scarf they’ve pinned
with a silver brooch to match her hair,
lonely carp where river deepens
            into hole and lair,

she ponders scaled and plated creatures
that spawn and perish in silt
and clay; and waxy chalcedony
            and massive flint

that could strike or catch
fire in the air, but work in the mud
a hidden purpose: she weighs the forms
            of widowhood.

Those who arm-in-arm have mourned,
she sees them home, couple and uncouple,
sees each fall to a separate dream
            and reach for a secret double—

a body miraculously winged and hoofed,
built for the long race and the short dash,
to give without tiring, to take without theft,
            thewed like the blacksnake and ash.

She sees God angling for us all,
hooking and crooking those well-worn lines.
She is lured by the dark, impermeable gleam
            of that many-fractured mind.

Publication credit: The Burial of Anyce Shepherd, Main Street Rag Publications, 1996. Copyright held by poet.



J. S. Absher graduated from BYU with a B.A. in 1976. In 2014 he retired from work to read, research, and write full time. He has published four books of poetry–“The Burial of Anyce Shepherd” (Main Street Rag Publications, 2006); “Night Weather” (Cynosura Press, 2010); “Mouth Work,” winner of the 2015 Lena Shull Book Award (St Andrews University Press, 2016); and “Skating Rough Ground” (Kelsay Press, 2022). His poetry has been nominated four times for the Pushcart Prize, twice for Best of the Net.