On the farm where the land rises like the slant of a leg
to a red barn in the west where swallows dive, and garter snakes
slip silently through thistles and daisies near the milk house,
a girl child, barefoot and shirtless, knees perpetually scabbed,
stands in grubby admiration of her bare-chested boy cousin
lying in a patch of sunlight on the barn floor, his lanky,
blue-jeaned legs, dusty with grain chaff. “Come here,” he says,
his reaching arm, golden, burnished with sweat,
the heat of his hand heavy on her shorts’ waistband.
What could have happened didn’t and did; swift footed
the girl child fled to throw herself onto the lap
of her mother’s flowered housedress, where she was
admonished for lack of attire; like petals fall, so does Eden end.
Why he wanted them, no one really knows,
but he asked the crematory for his mother’s artificial knees.
In her younger days, she was a fast walker, and even as toddlers,
he and his sister had to keep up as she dragged them along
sidewalks, through stores and railway stations, her heels,
percussive punctuation to their cries, but time flies on fiery
wings of cherubim and six decades later, she dies on the farm where
brick crumbles, and broken land bends from the spavined remains
of a barn to a weed-ripped pasture where cows no longer graze.
Her body is taken to be burned at 1500 degrees, titanium knees
licked clean by flames, then removed and placed
in a smooth white box, its surface reflecting the opalescent innocence
of daisy petals and pageant angel wings, its rattle like last breath.
Sandra J. Lindow published her first poem in a Sunday School magazine when she was 11. She has seven collections of poetry and presently serves as a regional VP of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets and as VP of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association. She lives on a hilltop in Menomonie, Wisconsin.