The Leaving

Who would have guessed she didn’t have everything –
best house in town, lawn courts in back?

Her brother, the tennis twin, still let her win
And once on a dare she outran the freight to the slough.

With her father on back roads, she sat at the wheel
while he buried the dead, bought up farms

for back taxes. With her mother retiring and
her brother thought dull, she was prize Kuchen.

The world’s wealth mailed to her, oranges and oysters.

Directions said nine months to master the instrument
But she wouldn’t practice scales on one-person duets.

The piano just sat there, made the floor sag.
Much later in summers, her own child banged chords.

By then she was canning, red jelly in jars.
Her mother had died. She was queen of the realm.

Hot nights on the porch, her hair tugged the elms.
If she had any sorrow, only doves heard.

Brisk single walker, she was often alone,
Except once, still early, her daughter yanked after her.

When church bells stopped ringing, she was beating the girl.
Whatever had caused it, she was simply too proud,

Couldn’t stand her child’s antics, up with the birds,
Wouldn’t take cast-offs from the sister-in-law’s girls

The family was hers, and she couldn’t bear sharing.
From the moment she left, her father condemned her.

Let the sister-in-law feed him. Gave her name to a bird.

Afterwards, did she ever come back? Wet the walk with her
Tears? Once after rain, she paused by the Hardware,

Gold H in her hair. By then her brother owned everything.
She build a house far away.

She could have used a fridge or a stove,
But he offered disposal. She had it put in.

Who knows if it worked? Remember,
Things broke when they were first made?

This was an early one, worth just
What it cost her: nothing, disposed of.

No one saw her afterwards.