Issue #2: FOR ETHYL, LOT 12, William James

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For Ethyl, Lot 12
who rarely left her trailer, unless it was to yell at us
neighborhood kids again—this time, the errant kickball
splatted wetly against her bedroom window,
times before for too much ruckus, the noise too loud,

who beehived her hair come Sunday morning,
pinned a bonnet on the back side and scowled
out the passenger window of a ’68 Lincoln
on her way to Sunday service,

who penned snarling letters to editors detailing
the downward spiral of the world, dropped notes
on our front porches chronicling every sin we had
committed after school or on weekends of play—

lists of toys strewn across the front lawn,
which lent a certain ugliness to the otherwise
sophisticated glow of the trailer park,

complaints of too-loud laughter, warnings
of bicycles ridden sans helmet—

who longed more than anything for just some peace
and quiet, a solemn dignity in which a weary old woman
could settle her bones, wished for the thunder of children
playing to calm itself, prayed all the noise turned to silence,

who ached to be left alone, who woke up too late,
too isolated, too stuck in the river’s throat as water
crashed down in wet flashes, who was swept away
by the ire of the storm,

who fit so perfectly in the culvert pipe it was as though
it had been fashioned just for her, crafted with the care
of a coffin maker, built as a final repose packed
in sand, in silt, in stone.


William James


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