Poetry – Spring 2020 #1 – Bruce Pemberton

– Five white-tails amble –

Spring 2020 #1

My dead second wife comes to visit,
camping out at the foot of my bed,
folding in her off-white wings
and patiently waiting until I awaken
at first light. My dogs don’t even stir.
I leave for twenty years, she says,
and everything’s gone to hell.
All the stores and schools are closed,
and the churches are all locked.
I’ll wager, she says, this virus is all
your fault.

She’s carrying a bent steering wheel,
and sees me staring at it.
That wasn’t my best day, she says.
We have airbags now, I tell her, stupidly,
and explain what they are. Well, how
wonderful for you, she says, ruffling
her wet wings. I flew down through
some weather to shop. I could have
saved myself the trip, but your bald
head and gray hair are almost worth
the turbulence.

One of my dogs sees her and growls.
Who’s this? she asks. It’s Fiona,
from the pound, I tell her. Go back
to sleep, she says gently, and Fiona’s
head drops. I don’t remember it being
this quiet, she says. Everyone stays inside
for now, I tell her, as five white-tails amble
through my yard. It seems the wildlife’s
roaming free, she says, and maybe that’s
for the best. She steps outside, spooks
the deer, then disappears with them
into the nearby forest.

Bruce Pemberton is a retired high school teacher, coach, and Gulf War veteran. His most recent work has appeared in American Life in Poetry, Duck Lake Journal, Ocotillo Review, Pirene’s Fountain, Rune, Sky Island Journal, Thimble, Third Wednesday, Yellow Medicine Review, and the anthologies, “Spokane Writes”, and “In Tahoma’s Shadow”. He lives on the Palouse, in rural, eastern Washington state. 

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