For Old Time’s Sake
In the bell bottom seventies, a strident voice sang out “I am Woman, Hear Me Roar!” to Kansas cheerleaders, on football Friday nights, who stood along the sidelines, brushed long hair, watched muscular boyfriends toss play-of-the-game passes seconds before the clock ran out so hometown heroes covered in mud and spatters of game-blood, together with homecoming goddesses, could stand in victory as last year’s royalty crowned and kissed a new year’s queen before a crowd of grinning dads and moist-eyed moms.
Helen Reddy’s one-week-at-the-top hit never became as popular in my hometown as homecoming queens who sometimes thought life could be bigger than towering grain elevators and some boy’s letter jacket heavy with medals and championship patches.
Only high school girls find truth in pop songs, embrace late night radio waves as lovers,and dream they can ignore being teen queens long enough to get the hell out Kansas corn fields.
But primal screams for freedom become whimpers … and twenty years later they still pray, just for today, sing it to me, Helen, one more time.
Cloud Dream Afternoon
I lie in feathery green fields,
smell the blues of the sky,
eat its cotton candy creatures,
lap them with my tongue,
savor each as if the last.
Sun soaks into my skin like butter
on fresh baked bread. I have no thoughts.
I hear the hues of fragrant flowers,
feel the steady vibration of honey bees.
The wind makes a gnarled redbud
smile because it’s old.
Too soon, my cloud dream is gone;
the sordid skies of marriage return.
Subtle rain began one night before
thunder tore the sky asunder,
shattered it with jagged lightning,
and hail hard as his heart.
Morning brought a deluge of lies,
I still don’t understand why.
In My Father’s Care
I chose the Drunkard’s Path
from the pile of quilt tops
my great-grandmother stitched
before I was born
because it reminded me of my dad,
whose wayward pattern also ended
in a grave trunk embellished
with just enough ornamentation
to give him dignity he lacked in life.
Without substance from cotton batting
stitched to the lovely hand-worked surface,
was the charm on Dad’s face and tucked
inside his voice even when slurred
in promises he meant to keep and regretted breaking
when he sobered up enough to maybe remember
or when my child’s, You promised, Daddy
was too quiet to avoid.
He promised to take care of me
but killed himself with beer instead
because his favorite grandson died.
He forgot Joe was my son.
I stood for the second time that month
in death, with the first death stuck
to the soles of my black pumps.
It has never come off, no matter
how many church Welcome mats
I drag my shoes across
and the quilt is still just a top with nothing
to make it warm enough for winter nights
Sheri Gabbertlives and writes in the Missouri Ozarks where she is a substitute teacher. Her work has been published inMoon City Review(2011/2017),new graffiti, Rat’s Ass Review(Love & Ensuing Madness issue and Such an Ugly Time issue and anthology, print and ebook),417Magazine, Street Buzz,andThe Lawrence County Record.