Now, Then, Later – Margo Davis

If only I could see what rustles in the thick
            ropey limbs overhead. Shrill, fussy,
                        a cry frees a few brittle magnolia leaves that flutter

down around my feet as a spindly egret
            opens overhead like an unsprung
                          umbrella, pooping on my head. If only those sounds

had registered, if I had bypassed that
             stretch of the boulevard. If only I’d
                           walked earlier, or later, thought to bring my umbrella

or a Kleenex. Sweaty springtime. Then
             my thoughts shift— to my daughter now
                         hunkered in north-Texas in her laundry room-turned

tornado shelter with my two small grandkids
             and bird dogs, one poised to protect,
                         the other needing solace. If only they’d vacationed

sooner. I shield my head with my long sleeve,
             too late in self-protection mode, recalling
                         a spring trip with my boyfriend — we had not married

yet— to visit my frail father. An Oklahoma
           tornado shook and tipped my father’s
                         flimsy trailer like a can of peas rolling off the shelf,

her father’s whimpers peeling like an unglued
             label as he cowered under the bedspread.
                          If only I had paid more attention then. And later.

Margo DavisRecent poems by Margo Davis have appeared in The Ekphrastic Review, Deep South Magazine, 50 Give or Take, Snapdragon, MockingHeart Review, & Odes and Elegies: Eco-Poetry from the Texas Gulf Coast. A three-time Pushcart nominee, Margo’s forthcoming chapbook will be published by Finishing Line Press. When not adventure traveling, she lives in Houston.