Doris Watts

Ezra Pound Seen at the Home Improvement Store

A big surprise to find him walking there,
long face, white pointed beard on pointed chin,
white suit (appropriate for the time of year),
wide-brimmed hat, wrinkled pants (cuffed at the hems),
as if, wakened, he'd dressed hurriedly to come
and shop for plumbing fixtures, paint, and pliers,
a world revived, an aberrance in time
compelled for now to take up home repair.

But no--for he looks neither right nor left,
ignores the indrawn breath of automatic doors,
strolls on, head up, cane measuring his steps,
and disappears there at the garden store
among the palms, among the hyacinths,
along with Eliot and Joyce and Yeats.

The Ladies of the Ars Poetica

In leisure moments, they embroidered out
their daily tasks in neat cross-stitches on
those fancy sets of kitchen towels not meant
for use but for display, a list of tasks,
a chart with chores spelled clearly out for all
to see--tidy reminders for themselves
and for their daughters too, about the sort
of proper housewives they were meant to be.

And so they did the wash obediently
and ironed on designated days. And sewed
and baked and shopped and cleaned and went to church
according to the edicts stitched on towels . . .
and ordered lingerie from Omaha
but never hung it outdoors on the line.

420 Toluca Avenue

Bette Josephine 1909-2002

The dishes washed and dried and put away,
the dish towels hung like hapless flags on racks,
bed made with top sheet folded neatly down
and blankets cornered tight, the bedspread smoothed
and tucked beneath each pillow with that deft,
long-practiced single motion of her hand.
The tasks repeated daily all these years,
when satisfied, she'd say, "Well now, that's that."
The good wife never left the dishes in
the sink or left behind an unmade bed
or left the house until her chores were done.
And while we watched from out in front, she paused--
his wheelchair and their bags packed in the car--
and for that one last time, she locked the door.


Of course! We grew up with witches--always there
and stalking us with poison combs or those
ubiquitous apples: "Here, my pretty one."
And as for art, beware the spinning wheel.
We spent childhood risking coma, injury,
or prison. And Salem turned girls fidgety,
almost less desirable than sleeping
in a castle waiting for the prince's kiss.

But we took heart, recalled what Dorothy did,
(she would prefer you thought that part about
the witch's melting was an accident),
and practiced all those spells we might concoct,
our charms, our incantations, our conjurings,
to stave off the anticipated burnings.


Doris Watts was born in Nebraska and now lives in Temecula, California, where it has snowed only once and briefly in the last twelve years. She is a graduate of the University of Redlands and earned a master's degree in technical communication from San Diego State University. She has worked as a usability specialist studying the interface between user and computer documentation products. Her work has appeared in Mezzo Cammin, The Formalist (she was twice a finalist in the Howard Nemerov Sonnet Competition), Blue Unicorn, The Lyric, The Mid-American Poetry Review, and 14 by 14.


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