His Mother, Overheard

not to mention mother’s mother’s
diamond ring mother passed
to me when she passed

not to mention the expense
of fixing up the carriage house
behind her folks’ place just for now

not to mention she nearly lost
her eyesight monogramming
his handkerchiefs in cursive script

six months in he broke it off
left a note on her hope
chest saying you deserve better

not to mention, the shame, this cup
chipped—and what is this—
red all over my napkin

 

                      Driving Past Our Marriage House

I’m glad you can’t see how close the wisteria
is creeping under the sill of our old second story
bedroom window—you’d been so vigilant

those twenty years to keep it trimmed and trained
along the antique trellis bought to celebrate
our fifth anniversary. Such a shame,

those gutters you slipped on the roof and broke
your arm to clean—even after I warned you
not to after your third drink—are now choked

with muck of pine needles and maple leaves.
You’d be sick if you knew how tiny fists
of boxwood—planted on the day our son turned

three that grew along the flagstone
walk to reach his waist at eighteen—ended up
so spindly, inside branches brown, like an apple

rotted from the inside out. You always got such a kick
out of telling that story endlessly over drinks
about what the guy said after he crawled the attic floor

on his belly to lay the duct work for central air: damned
if not the best built I’ve seen. Would you remember now
how proud you were, how you beamed?

Photo by dfbphotos

Nancy Mitchell

Nancy Mitchell, a 2012 Pushcart Prize recipient, is the author of two volumes of poetry: The Near Surround (Four Way Books, 2002) and Grief Hut (Cervena Barva Press, 2009). Her poems have appeared in Agni, Poetry Daily, Salt Hill Journal, and Green Mountains Review, and are anthologized in Last Call (Sarabande Books), The Working Poet (Autumn House Press) and The Plume Anthology of Poetry 2013. Mitchell teaches at Salisbury University and serves as the Associate Editor of Special Features for Plume.

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