Carryall – by Mary Alice Williams

A woman chooses a bag
she can sling over her shoulder
puts in it only
what she needs to pretend
she travels light

a few packets of familiar spices
a photo of a disappeared world,
removed from the frame
that held it longer
than she’s been alive,

a pen, a small green notebook,
a soup spoon,
a sharp knife she’ll sheathe
between the pages
of a necessary book,

an extra pair of socks
to wear or to barter,
-and why the hell not-
a tube of red lipstick
that takes up no space.

She removes the knife,
cuts into woody stems
of dooryard lavender
pinches the gray-green leaves
between her fingers

rubs the scent
into her hands
into her hair
into the soft fabric of her scarf
the rough fabric of her bag

scatters the pale
purple spikes among
the goods she’ll cart
knowing the fragrance
will be her footing.

She tightens her kerchief
over her ears
to shut out the clamor
of familial ghosts
dismayed by disruption.

She doesn’t bother to close the gate.
She’s as vulnerable as her crushed flowers
as sure as her honed blade
as strong as her freighted tote.

What she carries will carry her.

Mary Alice WilliamsMary Alice Williams, a native of Providence, RI, writes in Grand Rapids MI. Winner of the Dyer-Ives Poetry Contest judged by Conrad Hilberry, she has work in Potato Soup Journal, Shorts Magazine, WordCityLit. She will appear in the Fall 2022 River Paw Press anthology, Sunflowers. Since retiring from human services Williams has focused on honing her voice as a poet.