Janet Jenkins-Stotts

Old Age

Old age, a stealthy vineweed,
first finds a hairline fracture
in the mortar of your life

A name you can’t recall
an ache you can’t assuage
a wish for larger print
a need to nap midday.

Then, the vineweed digs in deeper,
causing cracks, not finding them,
growing ever up and out.

A thinning patch of hair,
A loss of the way home,
A growing fear of falling
A badly broken hip.

As vines burst into orange bloom,
You crumble, wrapped in lovely weight,
enriching your native earth.

 
Missing the Farm

I miss
Wild blackberries, tiny fruit guarded by innumerable thorns,
Enormous oaks with low branches, perfect to hang a swing on,
A cutting garden filled with iris and lilies, roses and clematis.
Litters of soft puppies, German shepherds, Labs, and min-pins.

I miss
Hunting Potawatomie relics in the ford of a stream,
Searching the spring woods for morels, ever hopeful, never successful,
Walking summer pastures, surrounded by curious, nudging horses,
Fishing in the pond where I killed a copperhead, hiding under my boat.

I miss
Visiting city folk posing for pictures on old tractors.
Grandchildren begging to stay just one more day,
Forty friends spread like dandelions over the lawn,
Mother, standing in the garden, speechless with delight,

I miss
Technicolor sunsets, so common they go unremarked,
Dawns the color of conch shells, white, coral and pink,
Fireworks encircling our hill, celebrating each small July town,
And stars, stars, stars, a Milky Way that was ours alone.

Leaving the farm after twenty years
was my idea. We came too late in life
To stay any longer, but that doesn’t mean
I don’t miss the farm.

Casualties

A dream left me aching with past tense
longing. An impossible situation,
a long time ago, but dreams have no
calendar. Why wake now, remembering

the intensity of his need hidden
behind a triangular smile. Instead
recall telling him you now understand
your role in his life, as shield from

emotions he can’t unpack. He does not
want to grasp my message, but I see it
flash across his face. War-torn Germany,
a mother selling the only thing she

had to feed her son in a city bombed
to dust. His shame? Being the reason for
her shame. How long can his shame last?
A lifetime, shown in his distrust of all

women’s love, shielding his heart behind
the barbed wire of a camp he built years ago.
He reached out, grasped my hand, and pulled it
through the shredding wire, wounding us both.

I lock away his presence in the night’s dream
casket, filled with rue and rosemary.
Stay inside forever, I whisper.

 

No, don’t.

 

 

 

Janet SJanet Jenkins-Stotts is a late blooming author of both poetry and prose.  She published her first novel The Orchid Garden in 2015.  Besides her interest in traditional forms of poetry, she is also known as Topeka’s Oldest Slam Poet when she performs at various Open Mic’s and local slam contests. She hopes to have a chapbook out before the end of the year. Jenkins-Stotts lives in Topeka, Kansas with her husband, Stan, and Romeo, their miniature pincher.