A Ribbon at at Time – Ann Howells

after Wislowa Szymborska

Hair coarse, white, thin,
the dark-haired girl in Dutch boy haircut
would not recognize herself,
breasts pendulous, thighs crepe-paper.  
How seldom we count the years
while hearts beat perfect 2:4 time,
every valve in tune.

She wandered down to breakfast.
Tatty blue robe, stirred fidgety coffee,
porcelain clink a metronome.
She worked a crossword, doodled,
gathered crumbs into a tiny pile
with thick, plain fingers,
nails bitten small.

Someone asked, Any plans?
She turned, open-mouthed,

gathering her robe, her thoughts,
but eager to begin quotidian routines

no one lingered for her answer.
The worn slipper dropped.

Ann HowellsAnn Howells edited Illya’s Honey from 1999 to 2017. Her publications include Under a Lone Star (Village Books Press), an anthology of D/FW poets she edited, Cattlemen and Cadillacs (Dallas Poets Community Press), and the chapbook, Softly Beating Wings, which won the William D. Barney Chapbook Contest for 2017 (Blackbead Books). Her poems have recently appeared in Chiron Review, Slant, and Perfume River. Her book of Chesapeake Bay poems is scheduled for release in July (Bowen Books).