a crack that opened in the wall
after an earthquake. My father
did this same work. At home,
he hit my mother–how soft
her face was. She told him,
“never again.” When he hit
his children she stayed quiet.
Even in small earthquakes
there are aftershocks and this
one’s no different. The ground
shaking again, I climb down
the ladder and sit on the floor.
My father away, my mother made
us sandwiches then gave the silent
blessing. Holding hands, I hoped
she couldn’t ready my thoughts.
Not that he hit us that often, I mean,
maybe, you know, I’m exaggerating.
I look out the window and watch
the leaves trembling on the trees.
For forty years she grew quieter,
one day whispering that she felt
short of breath, that her breathing
wasn’t right, she couldn’t breathe.
I get the broom and sweep up
bread crumbs and lint and hair.
I scrub the toilet then attack
the ring in the tub. It’s hot
and sweat drips into my eyes.
My mother died without a word
to me nor me to her. Who knows
when the house will stop shaking,
if it’s worth spackling the crack.
~ David Romtvedt
David Romtvedt, a graduate of Reed College and the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, served in the Peace Corps in the Congo and Rwanda and on a sister city construction project in Jalapa, Nicaragua. He teaches in the MFA program for writers at the University of Wyoming where he was the poet laureate from 2003 – 2011. His books include Buffalotarrak, an Anthology of the Basque People of Buffalo, Wyoming (2011) and the novel Zelestina Urza in Outer Space (2015), both from the Center for Basque Studies at the University of Nevada. His latest book of poetry, Dilemmas of the Angels, will be published by Louisiana State University press in spring 2017. He is the recipient of the Wyoming Governor’s Arts Award, a Wyoming Arts Council Literature fellowship, the Pushcart Prize, the National Poetry series award, and two NEA fellowships in poetry and music.
Ronda Miller enjoys wandering the high plateau of NW Kansas where the Arikaree Breaks whisper late into the sunset and scream into blizzards and thunderstorms. She lives in Lawrence close to her son and daughter. She is a district president and the state vice president for Kansas Authors Club. She is a life coach specializing in working with those who have lost someone to homicide. She dances every chance she gets. She has poetry in numerous online and hard copy publications that include The Smithsonian Institute. Two books of poetry include Going Home: Poems from My Life and MoonStain (Meadowlark Books, May 2015).