To C, at 41

This is to say the cabinet is bare

Once this honey is eaten there is none

No lemons to pulp

And all that’s here is some white rice

Say we had a door

The wolves would be at it

This is the Civil War

And a letter like this letter sets out

On horse, to you in some distant theater

 

Does this find you well?

The children ask for hot dogs

 

I can’t remember when I did not love you

Can’t see a thing before you popped corn in a wok

Back to me, all tattoos

And the ghost of a Skoal ring

You dipped your fingers in a bowl of sea salt and tossed it

A magician or revival charlatan

The salt coarse and suspended in the air

I ran I hid but your salt

Followed me to the coats I was under

Melted on my lips

 

Please send more lemons

Bring the lemons yourself

The weight of your chest is heaviest when you are gone

 

Lynchburg, probably


 

My grandmother fed 16 cats on paper plates

wet brown lumps soaking through those plates

but the cats ate fast hard pink tongues working

and it wasn’t long before just grease circles on paper

my grandmother’s back hump

loping back up to the house bathroom outside outhouse

her foreign tongue headscarf like a Russian grandma but not Russian

grease in a Maxwell House can

the hump was the last I saw of her of that house

before she slipped away into the Blue Ridge fog with a nosebleed

came back 25 years later came at me face to face

defiant looking for a fight

I am like you she said child bride squinting and hair cut short

blood feathering up in my throat in her throat

her eyes so blue they burned

blue even in the black and white photograph

Judy Caldwell holds a BA from Greensboro College and an MFA from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Her words have appeared in The Atlas Review, Flying South, 1808 magazine, and Go Triad. She lives in Jamestown, North Carolina with daughters and pets. In all of cinema, the scene she most relates to is the one in "Coal Miner's Daughter," where Sissy Spacek as Loretta Lynn sits on a porch trying to write a song, while tending to children and kicking a washing machine

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