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Sherrill AlesiakListen


Arizona to Nevada: Crossing the Line

I’m astonished
flowers grow from rock.
I’ve seen them in Iceland:
Purple lupine clumped in a crevice.
How does this happen?

The same array unfolds
in Boulder City:
Another purple protrusion
inching its way
along the mountain tilt.

Below, on the two-lane highway,
cars, bottlenecked,
creep in pace.

Below that, the Hoover Dam
jammed the
Colorado River,
as early as the thirties,
bursting it
into an artificial flower
at the bottom of
Black Mountains’ vase.

Before that,
volcanoes sprouted
from Boulder City
leaving a bed
of gravel and sand
for the Colorado
to hose through
planting petals
glittering garnet and gold.

What will become of rock?
Of purple flowers
redeeming drivers,
hungry and drained?


Hanging Clothes

Mondays, my mother would heave
the creaking wicker basket
up the basement stairs
to the clotheslines outside,
wipe them clean,
then with wooden clothespins,
hang sheets—corners connecting—
my dad’s factory hankies, pillow cases, and shirts,
fastidiously pinning underpants on the inside line
to shy away from neighbors.

Clothes hung.
Years flap by, nearly ready
to take down and gather in a basket.
A load accomplished.
It all comes out in the wash—almost all—
except for the awkward haul of Alzheimer’s
she carries inside her cinderblock room
with the slim locker
that chokes her labeled clothes,
no longer able to breathe in the heat of the day.

From lawn chairs on the deck,
my t-shirts crisp
in the dry mouth of the wind
to stand straight as a movie screen
when I pull my childhood over my head
and, momentarily blindfolded,
glimpse spirits,
clothed in sheets and shirts,
fluttering and dancing
to the rhythm of the wind.


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