where does it begin?, a poem

illustration where does it begin mossy backed florida cooters illustration where does it begin hands on shoulders

Where Does It Begin?
(originally published in The Charlotte Poetry Review)

Possibly with well-steeped tea,
gooseberry jam on raisin bread,
lots and lots of idle chatter;
later, he could try daily walks

through the woods — though she
has resolved she is finished with
nature — still he persists
in pointing out the log in the creek

holding five mossy-backed turtles;
if all else fails he could try
brushing her hair in the rough manner
of a mother, offhand, impatient fussing

to decipher knots. He could place her
in a room filled with the images
of budding spring trees, on a wide,
comfortable sofa, her stockinged feet

perched lightly upon the armrest
as she reads. The sight
of the frail new leaves will work
upon her, surely? Better yet,

he could fill a bowl with fruit,
three kinds of berries,
layering green upon yellow
upon blue upon red, teasing her

with a few squares of chocolate,
protesting all the while
that he always says the opposite
of what he means. Who lived my life

until this day? she will say. I could
ask myself the same question, he will
say by way of answer, placing his hands
lightly, lightly upon her shoulders.

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