Erin Elizabeth Smith 

[wpaudio url=”http://www.bluestemmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/ThreeMonthsinTennessee.m4a” text=”listen to this poem” dl=”0″]

1.

It’s snowing again in Knoxville
and still the braindead daffodils
open their sun-bright mouths

to the wet. Seven months
in this globed city,
and my husband tells me

this could never be
home, and I agree,
though I can’t say why—

I love the ravished Europa
and her lunar cow that cavort
in the square,

the butter light
of our living room,
the high ceilings

of textured white making
shadows of everything.
The chalk-line hills

that lick up in the wispy winter,
the skeletal poplars
that drop their summers there.

2.

A week into the season,
I think to clean the flower
beds of leaves.

Beneath, the small shoots of hostas
have thumbed their way through.
We amaze ourselves

with what sun and rain can do.
I can almost see them grow,
he says, as I watch the small

nameless birds peck at snails.
Nine months married and I hate
and marvel at the weight of a ring

the way its absence – in sleep,
in work, in the hot of deep
bathtubs – is a type of fear. So many

anecdotal losses and how do you replace
a metaphor? An allegory? The strange
attachment of a ring to a hand.

3.

Our chainlink neighborhood
goes alive with dogwood.
Petals cover lawns

like the drawings
of unicorned little girls
who pencil the same house

with the same two boxy windows
under a smiling sun.
I drew these houses too once

and now in the margins of my books
I dog-ear anything that licks my brain
past the single triangle tree

that grows out
of some horizonless white,
or the crepe myrtle, very real,

maturing into its own unflattering bush
all pink pistons of flower
and the grass limp beneath.