Marsha Owens

Keeping Vigil

Death stands upstairs.
Downstairs, the old cat’s
bones ache in the air
conditioning, the fat
rescue paws his food
in the dish,
looking for slugs, we’re told,
a bad memory from his street days.

In the kitchen we circle each other—
husband, daughter, friends—breathe
in the comfort of coffee.

Someone tells a story–A fawn was born
just last week down on brother’s farm,
the spotted baby stumbled into life.

Should I make more coffee? he asks.
The soothing balm of ritual. Yes, please, we say.
He walks to the sink, runs water into the pot,
then sets it down on the counter, forgets
about purpose, slips back behind the haze
we try desperately to push away.

Then as though no one would hear, he says,
Maybe I should take out the trash. . .

NYC Sidewalk

a scribbled note
tucked under

a shoe too
tattered to matter

against the frigid
wind blistering

the street read
put me in a motel.

supplication
rooted me to the

moment, pushed me
closer to the blanket—

dirty, threadbare—

and there, on a shoulder

sat a raven, keeping
watch, head cocked,

so i turned away,
deathly afraid

of that bird.

***

Marsha’s poems and essays have appeared at NewVerseNews, thewildword, Rat’s Ass Review, Streetlight Magazine, the Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, and in the anthology, Life in 10. She lives and writes in Richmond, VA, not far from the peaceful Chesapeake Bay.

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