October Wildflower

October Wildflower
Bethany Powell

Lara did not expect the end of everything to be so pretty.
Inside the house, neatly packing up clothes she no longer would wish to wear,
the expected dread had cloistered her in, but once out the door--

dewstruck cobwebs dangle from ghost-weeds
the mist catching in them--happy to condense to jewel-orbs of water.
Eerie outlines of mundane things like locust trees and roadsigns in fog
belonging to visions of ballgowns and carriages.
She walks, bag in hand, and thinks this is a gift.

Only a mile up to the dollar store parking lot, to be picked up by her sister.

This mile, a netherwhere passage, tiny blossoms peer up from pavement cracks,
the lack of autumn foliage graced by blooming pink heads on scrubby bushes,
soothe a heart leaving a world built to escape weird secret things
and look, I was always here, whispers the landscape in birds about the ditches
and crows scattering, in a heavy outsider magic, against white sky.

Silent in the dull roar of her sister's van,
Miri thinks it's from throat-cut heartbreak, but Lara is storing these things up.

And "homecoming" does not dull this odd pearling of the sand.
Even in the retrogressive everyday of her parents' three acres with house,
trailer, and fifth-wheel, the chickens scratching so close by the highway
make her marvel there are new generations every spring or so.
The mist is stubborn today. It still sits, melting, at the heels
of the fifth-wheel Mom has cleared teen Thomas from, for Lara.
The windows are open to freshen it up, and the tendrils of wind
polish the screens with grounded water droplets, as well.

"I have some tea on," her mother says, by way of "I'm sorry" and "This is terrible"
but Lara says, "Just a moment, let me put my bag down."

She steps to the back, and looks out over that small bit of land.
The creek muttering at the back,
still hidden by its bushes and screens of thistle, recall
          being paws and tails and snapping small jaws,
          discovering crawdads and snakes as big-eyed canines--
          running, screaming with glee, in again child-form
          (neighbors calling to say it was crazy for them to be naked
          in this rough country, dangerous, unclean)
and long, long burying all this past as unwanted.

Maybe she will catch that life again, like so much spidersilk
to wear as her necklace. To put in her hair, as an unexpectedly blossoming
October wildflower.

Bethany loves going for long walks in the Oklahoma countryside where, pleasant or unpleasant, there’s always something to prompt a poem. Such work appears also in magazines like Apex, Asimov’s, Through the Gate–you can find them all at bethanypowell.com.