Angie Dribben

when doves cry

       For Ain’t Frances

the sound that marks the day you left us / I been looking for the word to name it / it came overhead / as I gathered briars to burn / mighty Starling migration— in the millions—chatter and rattle / that’s the way you left us / in a flurried rumble / rain in soft jumbled flock warbling / flooding your grave / I imagine you being called up & knowing there is no one left behind charged with remembering your name / indebted by birth / as a child is to its mother

know this / I remember you / the way you taught me a woman grunts instead of speaks when she lives with a tiny man / leaves less to be misconstrued / I know you went with the Doves1Domestic violence shelter before you ever met the Starlings / Momma didn’t tell nobody straight on until you’d been gone twenty years / but I knew cause I’d overheard / lime green knit pants / vertical stripes on your blouse not one of them in agreement with lime / hues of violet piled atop your head / what man leaves seventy years of enchantment sprawled splintering on the sidewalk between tomato twine and heavy-headed peonies / the man who puts that vison down

I remember avocado stove / butter rotary dial / an ashtray thick enough it could’ve should’ve killed a man / a smoking Chesterfield / turkey leg hanging off the Blue Willow / sack-burdened ceramic burros and roosters bump their heads / on ceilings from their cabinet-top perch / I remember the old woman / lilac dress / counting time from her rocking chair inside the clock box atop the floor model TV

I bought miniature wooden clothespins in awful shades refusing to match the marmalade magic of my walls and pinched your grayscale photographs between the strung arches of lights—

Your arms stretched up to constellations / wrapped around a lion’s head

Skirt spread out as wide as the frame allows / heels tucked beneath a bottom of youth

Your head resting on the beating bark of a walnut / Eyes big and night as hulls

I imagine your dress in shades of pomegranate / your belt obviously tangerine

We remember you / whether of your womb or not / We are all your daughters / all of Us who ever loved and lived with a tiny man


1 – Domestic Violence Shelter

Angie Dribben’s debut collection, Everygirl, a finalist for the 2020 Dogfish Head Prize, is out with Main Street Rag in May 2021. She is Contributing Reviews Editor at Cider Press Review and Director of Internal Affairs at Southern Collective Experience. Her poetry, essays, mixed media, and reviews can be found or are forthcoming in Cave Wall, EcoTheo, Deep South, San Pedro River Review, Crab Creek Review, Crack the Spine, fatal flaw, up the staircase quarterly, patchwork lit, and others. Her poetry is widely-anthologized: Stained, I Wanna Be Loved By You (Milk and Cake Press), Texas Review Press’ Virginia anthology, among others.

Next poem

Previous poem

Spring 2021