This Potash Dawn  


by Judith Skillman



Come, but come early too much, arrive

with your toxins that turn the sky yellow


as our sun rises above the tree

that fell last summer on a windless night


from drought. Come already, I know

your face more than sound—the birds


dying to catch up on news, puffed up,

full of sleep, feathers catching a quick beak.


C’mon into thishow else say—

chronic pain, this age, the crown 


of grand motherhood tarnished. Lust

synthesized: old lovers, new husband,


new husband, old lovers. Wheeze me

out of the house mid-afternoon, blowsy


as laundry strung on a line, for the shower,

the chores, the stretch of muscles tight


with spasms and that curve where discs

non-surgical—bulge against nerve,


bent anew as with the wrench

my father wielded, when he had a door


to fix, and later the vise on his workbench,

teeth clenched, uttering curses for lack


of oil, as I watched my child-self 

grow up to the lip of the wood.