I spoke with a man whose wife had just died.
He rambled to me about fixing his sailboat and how
moving to Arizona would be good for his asthma.
He could buy tribal land there cheap,
but his daughter would not abandon her friends to go with him.
If only he had spoken to his sister sometime—
at least once—in the past thirty years.
She lives with the Navajo near Four Corners,
where the Cherokee are welcome.
The older boys are still in denial, he says.
But he (and his wife) had long accepted her fate.
If only he had spoken to his sister.
Without a ballast keel, you shouldn’t venture far from shore
in rough seas, his thoughts return to the sloop.
(It was not sudden or unexpected.) If only
he had spoken to his sister in Arizona.
As the hour turns late, his wolfdog grows restless,
and I am suddenly glad she has a leash made of chain.
Florescent trickster eyes follow wildly
a playful cur across the yard, chasing freedom.
It is always the small things,
The way her rag-doll hair
fits tightly into a bun
and exposes her neck. The way
she stands on her toes, and
how she acts first
without saying a word
The way her tattered jeans
cover her Doc Martins, and how
she holds her beer bottle
like a tea cup.
Her kisses are always gentle,
her cheeks dew-kissed
The way she doesn’t wear a bra
or need to, and the way she doesn’t care
when I notice.
How her nose crinkles
when she’s silly. The way she cries
The way she walks away
on the tips of her toes
without a word.
"Chasing Freedom" and "Small Things" were published in the January 2010 issue (#13) of Breadcrumb Scabs.
On July 20, 2012, "Small Things" was read by Conrad Balliet on Conrad's Corner, WYSO 91.3 FM as part of his local poets project.