Evening Prayers for the Fearful
Now stretches the quiet afternoon.
Locusts praise the yard with their resurrection,
and fragrant butterfly bushes attract
their eponyms, now tremulous with wings.
Surrounded on all sides by fertile green,
envious green— grass and leaves and fronds—
all free to steal away with the wind,
me with nowhere else to go.
The grass burns where there is no shade,
the deck boards scorching my feet. The heat
is relentless, my skin brown but for blanched
breasts and belly. I hide the most vulnerable
places. Keep them under wraps. Say nothing.
Both dreams and the deer are dormant,
brain and breath slowed to the sweep of cool
from a briefly open door. All winter, I yearn
for sun and then it comes too strong. A death
that singes. A sudden wind gusts to soothe,
kiss for a fevered brow. Clouds bruise the light.
The dank air parts by some invisible hand.
I whip the weeds until the shrapnel
shreds my calves to bleeding.
The pressure behind my eyes not illness,
but fear that cannot find utterance.
Some days I spiral into silence; others
I spiralize zucchini into noodles and pretend.
Illusion is necessary in isolation. The sky
fades light to dark, ombre to mark the hours.
The only visible star in Orion’s belt
is the one that marks the hilt of his blade.
Donna Vorreyer is the author of To Everything There Is (2020), Every Love Story is an Apocalypse Story (2016) and A House of Many Windows (2013), all from Sundress Publications. Her poems, reviews, and essays have appeared in Rhino, Tinderbox Poetry, Poet Lore, Sugar House Review, Waxwing, Whale Road Review, and many other journals. Recently retired from a 36-year career in public K-8 teaching, she serves as an associate editor for Rhino Poetry and looks forward to new adventures.