Chelsea Rathburn
April 2003

 


Sixteen


After eight straight weeks of summer drought,
the tomatoes hang deflated in the yard;
even the weeds have flickered and gone out.
I water anyway, the lonely guard
of hard dry rows of beans, a burning lawn.
Inside, my daughter slinks – a perfumed sigh
and too-tight shorts. She shouts she’s off, is gone
in a flash and a rubber squeal, no kiss goodbye.
For years she sat with me beneath the trees
and hunted bearded gnomes and four-leaf clover.
But that was when she still had knobby knees
and loved her mother. Those days are over.
Remembering April, the whole world wet and green,
I pray for rain, for seven, for seventeen.


from The Formalist, 11.2 (2000).