by Alison Stine
I am afraid. It is all I know of ships.
I used to live there and there, and you
went to work and returned for all
I know like the men in libraries,
dressed in three-piece suits, bow-tied
into tight shoes, unemployed men,
copying out neatly the classified ads.
Today while we whittled hours
for you to come home, your son spat
on the potted palm in the corner
by the air conditioner and the old
spotted mirror. The tall plant, chipped
and forsaken. It is not on my list,
but once, I fed it a spill, and the green
sprung up like impulse, up like the comb-
over corn of home. Home. We have been
trying these past few months to bring
it back. Spoon cups over roots. Sing
the invisible. The earth darkens.
Each seed is asleep. Today, your son
spat on the plant to water it. He thought
it was a game. I let him think that.
The corn plant—only you
are taller, at night in a ghost shirt,
stiffened with wine. I have never wanted
anyone so much, nor been so afraid
of his leaving: who would call me wife,
who would turn back for a plant.
Musical Contribution: “Gazebo Tree”
In Their Own Words
This song is a cover of “Gazebo Tree” written by one of my favorites, Kristin Hersh. I used to play it a lot when I lived in Gettysburg, PA in the servant quarters of a very big and very haunted Civil War-era house. My piano was in the attic, and I used to leave the windows open and play all night. But the song is most special to me because I was playing it in the corner of a hotel when I met my husband; he heard me singing and came to see.
Alison Stine’s new book is WAIT, winner of the Brittingham Prize (University of Wisconsin Press, 2011). She is also the author of OHIO VIOLENCE, winner of the Vassar Miller (University of North Texas Press, 2009). She has written musicals and plays that have been performed on such stages as the International Thespian Festival, La Habra Depot Theatre, and the Cleveland Playhouse.