Barbara Sabol’s fourth poetry collection, Imagine a Town, won the 2019 poetry manuscript prize from Sheila-Na-Gig Editions. Her work has appeared most recently in Evening Street Review, One Art, Mezzo Cammin, Literary Accents and Modern Haiku, and in numerous anthologies. Barbara received her MFA from Spalding University. Her awards include an Individual Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council. Barbara lives in Akron, OH with her husband and wonder dogs. Purchase Imagine A Town: https://sheilanagigblog.com/sheila-na-gig-editions-quick-shopping/barbara-sabol/
Every spring my mother would hang a fuchsia basket
under the front porch awning. Against the nondescript
white ranch housing our unremarkable lives
it announced itself like a trumpet of color, blaring
a cascade of frilled flamenco reds and purples.
She admired it like some exotic vista an ocean away.
My mother tended the plant with a tenderness
she reserved for her flowers: the moistness meter,
the pellet food, the spritzer.
She’d hum some unknown tune under her breath
while gently detaching gone-by blooms, then plumped the plant
all around, the way she would a newly done coif.
Wilted as a spent petal in the last year of her life,
she ceased caring about her garden, or whether
the annual fuchsia flashed outside her front door.
It seemed to me as essential as the IV bag―I insisted
on hanging the plant so she could admire it from the worn
couch corner where she sat in her pink chenille bathrobe,
propped upright by pillows. In the mix of doctor visits,
medication regimens, the labor of bathing and dressing,
the fuchsia went neglected. But just for her sake, I think,
its blooms that year were abundant into late fall,
as if it wanted to set an example of hardiness
despite its delicate costume.
In my new house, a similar small, white ranch
chosen for my older, downsized years, the garden plots
lay mulched over, ready for any mix of blooms.
I tend toward the kind of flowers easily mistaken
for weeds – asters, geranium, daisies, nettle―
but have found the perfect spot for a fuchsia.
This one is still blooming late into November,
a tumble of color in the chill, grey daylight;
a chandelier out in the dark.
Type me some lines on your Smith-Corona,
the one that you lugged cross-country
from Sedona in your red Ford pick-up
to write poems about juke boxes, the Rockies,
your first kiss on the Tilt-a-Whirl.
While Louise read a sonnet about her lover’s
sinewed arm bent at rest in yellow lamp light,
I studied your arm on the table, followed it
from the rolled edge of your black tee-shirt,
down your forearm to those tapered fingers
and imagined how easily I could fill the space
inside its curve.
So take me for a spin in your hip
vintage truck, past Middle Ground
and beyond the town’s edge. Arrange me
like a sonnet; my limbs are suggestible
to all kinds of rhythms and rhyme. Press me
with material I can use for years.
Clara Barton, stepping from the train after the great flood in
Johnstown, PA, June 5, 1889
for fear has no place among mud-shrouded
and pieced along the river banks.
Houses, once upright shelters, folded in
upon themselves; hearths now open
to the drizzle: cook stove here, table
leg, crockery there. Foundation stones,
chimney bricks everywhere.
Almost underfoot, a porcelain doll; blue
broadcloth dress, white apron, smeared.
Jointed limbs intact. I place her in my coat pocket.
Skeins of iron wire stab the air,
Splintered timbers, engines and steel rail
mangled in this prodigious mix.
The dazed search through the rubble for a familiar.
O I have seen the likes on battlefields―the aftermath
of soldiers outfitted and ready,
but here is a town wholly unarmed, shadowed
by an enemy proclaiming,
I am the modern Morpheus,
a wild beast,
a paroxysm of rage.
In this wasteland fear will press its sway.
Stronger yet is necessity, as ever I’ve seen.
Title and italicized lines from “R E D” by Chase Berggrun