Like Noah’s wife I loved
the water till it was all I had. Is it her
voice I hear lately coming through
the downpour calling o and o and…?
My brother thinks it’s easy
to lose faith, underestimates
how hard I’ve worked to get
here. But the dove is just
an ordinary pigeon, I remind him,
some small dull thing sent to test
the flood mark. I wish I had
his gift for submission. Truth is,
our mother’s gone and we’re
struggling. Maybe peace isn’t
any one thing, he offers, his face
so lucent—like a painting of
the Son we were raised on.
He’s waiting now, for me
to answer, but the rain keeps
coming, inexhaustible as fact,
its tears iridescent green
and violet as a bird’s wringed neck,
or the dress our mother loved
but we couldn’t afford
to bury her in. When we were children,
she took us to a dead fountain
where we tossed imaginary coins
into missing water. Is it wrong
to believe I’m due what was
promised? I don’t have two nickels
to rub together, but rest in the quiet
light of that memory, as light
rests in her final X-ray, metal
ring flaring over shadows of
bone, there, in her still-living hand.
Shara Lessley is the author of The Explosive Expert’s Wife (Wisconsin) and Two-Headed Nightingale (New Issues), and coeditor of The Poem’s Country: Place & Poetic Practice (Pleiades). Her awards include NEA and Stegner Fellowships. She was the inaugural Anne Spencer Poet-in-Residence at Randolph College and serves as assistant poetry editor for Acre Books.
The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.