Eighty-year-old Woman Living in Squatter’s Camp, Bakersfield, CA
Her hair has thinned, her round glasses
low on her nose. I doubt she has many teeth
the way her mouth is set. Yet, she has advice:
“If you lose your pluck you lose
the most that is in you.”
She sits in a car. She is wearing a plaid dress
with cuffs and wide collar.
I would not want to tangle with her,
although the man beside her
probably has. He is in her shadow
and I didn’t see him at first.
I think of a long marriage,
that he’s learned to give in.
To live on the outskirts of town
in a shack of tin. What do the wrinkles
in this woman’s face reveal--
the death of a child,
illness or the constant counting of change
for bread and milk.
She has one hand on her forehead
shielding her eyes from the sun.
She wants to see clearly what is before her.
Gail Peck is the author of eight books of poetry. The Braided Light won the Leana Shull Contest for 2015. Poems and essays have appeared in Southern Review, Nimrod, Greensboro Review, Brevity, Connotation Press, Comstock, Stone Voices, and elsewhere. Her poems have been nominated for a Pushcart, and her essay “Child Waiting” was cited as a notable forBest American Essays, 2013.
The Ekphrastic Review
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