Poem for a Daughter III

No snow today, no two below.
No diapers waiting in the pail for bleach.
No pail. No wooden house above the two-lane road,
no Freewill Baptist Church next door, no
cemetery on the point above our bedroom window.
No jewelweed, no damp dirt road rising in shade,
no poison ivy, no view of the Big Sandy as yet unseen
from the end of that trail. No weight, alive
in my arms, no new-broken ground thick with garden beans
wrapped in morning glory vines. Nothing twines here
except stillness broken by her call. They’re not here
either, and yet
                that baby and her daughter calling,

their tale about the broken washer fills the living room
with voices, brings back that forty-year gone snow,
the smelly pail, the garden beans, the jewelweed.
Changed bodies—hers and mine—marked by births

and deaths, bad hips, a grandmother’s imperfect
spine singing down the chromosomes. What isn’t
here? What is? This August heat, cicada whir,
a cricket by the door, and everything unseen.

Leatha Kendrick is the author of three volumes of poetry, including her most recent, Almanac of the Invisible. Her poems and essays have been widely anthologized, and she is a two-time recipient of the Al Smith Fellowship in Poetry from the Kentucky Arts Council and has received fellowships from the Kentucky Foundation for Women. Her MFA in Poetry is from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and she leads workshops at the Carnegie Center for Literacy & Learning.

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