Four Poems by Laura Cronk

Yellow Wild Flower

I can eat as much as a big man. Wiry stems scarf up

sunlight, roots muscle through dirt getting at water.

If I could walk, I would run. Instead I shoot up

starburst buds and pinwheels of thick yellow.

Behind each bloom that’s going white at the edges,

about to look nibbled or crumpled or done,

there’s another spikey ball, ready. If I could walk,

I would never sit down. I stand straight, pixie cut

ruffled in the wind. There’s no swaying, there’s no

lolling a lush peony head toward all I want, hinting

hard. If I’m hungry, I say it. I eat and grow. I dare you

to scan this meadow and tell me you’re not thinking

yellow, yellow, yellow.



The neighbors didn’t say much

and we didn’t say much.

The baked dirt of August

communicated nothing.

The dog rarely barked.

The horses just looked.

The pine tree waved when

there was heavy wind

but mostly stood

silent, but for the slip

of needles from branches,

the taffeta whoosh of them

as we passed around

the side of the house.

Our parents didn’t fit—

they answered our questions

when we asked. Our

mother took it

further and went with

her guitar outside

to sit and play

on the concrete steps

hoping someone would

happen by and hear.

Our friends’ parents

weren’t like that.

Our friends weren’t.

Teachers said

what was needed.

First loves didn’t know

what to say.

The vast fields were silent

when you stood at the edge.

If you climbed over the locked

gate and walked out

into the rows of beans you

could hear the rustling of

the dry pods and the clicks

of insects that hadn’t

been killed by spray.

There was something

else here before

but we didn’t talk about

what it meant

or what it was or who.


The Professionals

Who decorates movie sets, sitcom stages,

the kitchens used to advertise paper towels?

Who decorates doctor’s offices, the suite

of offices of a university president, of

a Wall Street accounting firm? Who chose

the paint color for the steel doors at

the bus terminal, the window casements

of the post office, who picked out the awning

at the hospital entrance? All of the patients

in the ER waiting room are held in an embrace

of turquoise and beige that was someone’s

decision fifteen years ago. The spy in the new

series has art on the walls of her D.C. house.

When did she hang it? A set designer wonders this

while hammering the nails. In the evenings

and on weekends, I make the decisions one by one.

Mid-century with a Victorian nod, Farmhouse

Minimalism, Scavenger Maximalism

with a sense of humor and on a budget.

It’s never quite right and never done.

The Shakers hung their chairs on walls.

They shook together but never touched.

Is that how they could do it? Make a home

and live in it, all at once?


Portrait of The Summer Husband

You said it was like

we were living on a pod

on the sun. Top floor

walkup. You hauled

buckets with soil and seeds

to the roof. Your soft

green t-shirt. Your

close-cropped beard.

You took me to the racetrack.

You took me to the park.

You said someone should

create The Love Fellowship.

Then being in love

would be all we’d have

to do for a year.

You packed me lunches.

You set up our checking.
You and the mailman,

the woman muttered

walking past

as you sat on the stoop,

reading. You and the mailman
have nice legs. In a few years

we’d have our girl in the summer.

You walking her for hours

in a sling down Bergen Avenue,

down Montgomery. But

this summer it was just us,

just you meeting me

halfway on my walk home

from the train. You walking

me there in the morning.

The heat was a thrill, incessant.

There was your hand with its new

ring. Your lips.


From Ghost Hour by Laura Cronk. Published with permission of Persea Books. All rights reserved.

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