The 2River View 28.3 (Spring 2024)

Virginia Bach Folger

The Afterlife, If Indeed There Is One

I hope it's not like going to Walmart
tacky and tedious

it should be
or at least comfortable,
a place of abundance

where silk is as common
as cleaning cloths

where baths are filled
with plumeria-scented water
at just the right

But what if what we deserve is Walmart?

Justice is too harsh for eternity
Give us mercy instead

but leave out
the feathery wings
the crowding around the throne
that incessant harp playing

Give us, instead

quiet swing time in a hammock
the chirping call of the cardinal,
the aggressive piano of Thelonious Monk
playing “You Needn’t”

let us watch black swallowtails sip nectar
from deep purple phlox and Queen Anne’s lace

let someone whisper
a word of kindness


The Dream Wherein I am Accused of Breaking the Sugar Spoon

My daughter appears out of nowhere and
leads me to a grey stone fireplace. Memory
floats backward to another fireplace, red brick
with a tank of tropical fish on the mantle.
Black mollies, angel fish and neon tetras
swim serenely but the green swordfish are
always trying to leap out and escape.

My mind swims with the many ways I failed
at motherhood, my pallid attempts as futile
as the swordfishes’ escape.

My daughter shows me items she has hidden:
some poems she has casually written,
e-mails from her wandering year
living in an old van, taking bucket baths,
a few watercolor abstracts,
a dried bloom from her bridal bouquet.
She says she needs to go.
She doesn’t say where.

Alone in an empty house.
At the end of a long narrow hallway,
I catch a glimpse of George W. Bush
sitting at his easel, painting a portrait
of someone I never knew.  Bush’s image
falls away like ashes from a fireworks display.

The chest storing my daughter’s secrets
lures me closer.  I don’t touch it. I wait 
a very long time.  An image appears,
a sugar spoon, bright and broken, a silver spoon,
jammed into the lock. My daughter standing there, asking:

Did you break this spoon, did you jam this lock?

Virginia Bach Folger has worked as a gas station attendant, paralegal, claims adjuster, and corporate learning and development manager. She has previously published or has poems forthcoming in Constellations: A Journal of Poetry and Fiction, The Mantle, and The Fourth River.
<< Steve Coughlin Forester McClatchey >>
Copyright 2River. Please do not use or reproduce without permission.