The Lines We Draw

Even after all our careful preparation,

planning the perfect home birth:

reading, breathing, praying,

the baby must come caesarean.

We spend hours with the garden fork,

crumbling the chocolate soil,

tucking the treasured seeds in.

Still, spring frost nips the bean shoots.

An earthquake changes the meaning of ground beneath my feet.

A rock beneath the curving ski turns holiday to horror.

The levee breaks, a sudden hailstorm,

crops are lost, and then the farm.

I lick the stamps for letters and parcels

to lighten the last afternoons of my childhood friend.

We’d planned to rock on an Appalachian porch

after our husbands had grown old and gone.

Everything takes shape outside the lines we draw.

No choice, no notice, no control.

No early beans, no Ozark afternoons,

the marriage ends, the mail lies undelivered.

If I could see twenty years forward,

I’d close my eyes and hide beneath the covers.

Outside the window,

white pear petals drift.

I light a candle, choose joy,

open my arms for the next dance.

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