She’s squinting beyond the aluminum
graph paper-thin barrier, wearing her canary
yellow sweater in the middle of July.
Her screen door hinges speak creak
futures of teak forests talking bark
tongues—even screws have voices.
Ruth’s face runs deeper than every riverway
winding the panhandle—her hallway
bookshelves stand tall
as cornfield stalks. Her lionfish hands spine veins
weightless, the dining room’s shaded by lace
drapes & banana leaves. Through the widow’s window,
old shoes hang—two ravens
strung over phone pole wires.
Ruth’s lungs hum Georgia summers cracking
skies like milk teeth or piggy banks
smashed by a baseball bat. Penny thunderheads
rumble while I wolfwhistle at the scent of her
frying johnny cakes in bacon fat.
It could be a spoonful to save you from the desert
sand—doubt-wild chickens chase hen feathers
across Thomas & Edison Street.
What good is a shoebox of photographs
to a woman who can barely measure flour by eye?
My fathermark’s a ship sealed-in glass—I’m shaking
in a blanket, spying shoals from the crow’s nest.
Author’s note: “The Book of Ruth” quotes a line from from the song, “Spoonful,” from Moanin’ in the Moonlight by Howlin’ Wolf (Chess 1959)
Forrest Rapier is a recent MFA graduate from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He is the winner of an Academy of American Poets Prize and his work has appeared in Best New Poets, Texas Poetry Review, barnstorm, Saw Palm, The Greensboro Review, among others. He is currently a lecturer in the English Department at UNCG.