Peggy Turnbull lives in Wisconsin near Lake Michigan. Her poems are forthcoming in Your Daily Poem, Hummingbird, and Bramble, and have appeared recently in Poetry Super Highway, Ancient Paths Online, and Contemporary Haibun Online. She won The Mill Prize for Poetry in 2019 and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her chapbook, The Joy of Their Holiness, is forthcoming from Alabaster Leaves Publishing.
Invisible Woman in a Northern City
This first June after outliving him,
she walks downtown. The cold
tightens her ghost-tethers as she drags
him along nearby. Her breath
surprises her, visible as the smoke
her parents exhaled from nostrils,
mouths. They found calm in it. Rest.
No rest for her. Emptiness.
She glares at sidewalk seams,
almost misses the funky doorway
to the methadone clinic, glass
taped over with brown paper,
sign scrawled ordering clients
to enter from the rear. Inside,
asbestos tiles, molded plastic seats,
the dirt of years, a patina of grief.
Or maybe hope. A mental match
flares. For someone else, not him.
She daydreams about socks,
long sleeves, a coat. Two men exit
the liquor store: grizzled, wizened,
skin carved tight as hunger. Oversized
jackets, jeans that hang off scrawny
butts, each smiles at the other. Bottles
tucked into bags under their arms.
Enough for a good morning, then
blotto bliss. How well she remembers.
Feels her demon tug. And his.
What he suckled from her blood.
This and that craving. This
and that need. Hers the map
that led him to his prison.
More wind from the river.
At her back now. One step
at a time forward. Shake off
the ghouls. When she sees
him next, she’ll be new.
A beautiful spirit made clean.
As he must be. Warmth flows
into her hands. This one moment.