Submission Guidelines: Send unpublished poems in the body of an email (NO ATTACHMENTS) to nvneditor[at] No simultaneous submissions. Use "Verse News Submission" as the subject line. Send a brief bio. No payment. Authors retain all rights after 1st-time appearance here. Scroll down the right sidebar for the fine print.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010


by Laura Rodley

after Memorial Day

We got married under that tree,
the oak that careened over
in Thursday’s thunderstorm,
went over like a bowling pin
the bowling bowl the feet
of the storm stamping
down trees through Gill, Greenfield
down through Holyoke.
We got married under that tree
Lucille wore a cream voile dress.
I wore a top hat and tails.
We hired a white horse and carriage
to drive us to the reception hall
and back to our apartment door
where we took our honeymoon in style.
After we bought the house
I built a swing for our son, Tommy
on its lower branch.  Lucy rocked
him on that swing to get him to sleep
when he was 2, 3, 4, and when
he went to school, five, but not
later, he was too big to be rocked
he said and when the news that he’d died
in Vietnam came, delivered by soldier
and chaplain, I cut that swing down
and buried it with his diploma
and graduation cap; we never did
get his body; is he really dead,
sometimes I wonder, wanting
to string the swing back up, and after
a year went by Lucy asked me, please
Edward, I’d like to sit and rock again on the swing
not saying how she’d  remember holding Tommy
in her arms never leaving the ground
rocking back and forth, and I threw
the ropes up for another swing
just as good, even better.  Lucy
sat there holding the two thick
cotton ropes, instead of her hands full
of our Tommy and she just rocked back and forth
never leaving the ground. I planted
pansies all around the roots of the tree.
Though they prefer more sun, they blossomed.
And now some kid tells me he wants $2,000
just to chop the tree up, who does he
think he is, maybe I’ll do it myself.
I’m standing by the blown over dirt and tree roots,
spread out almost as tall as me with my saw,
moving some of the dirt, when, what’s this:
two match box cars and a tank.
Tommy must have buried them here.
And what’s this, all wrapped in plastic.
I pull it out, unwrap the Saran Wrap, brittle,
falling to silvery pieces as I unwrap
a dishcloth, one of Lucy’s red and white
plaid ones, there’s a harmonica,
a package of Jujubees, Tootsie rolls,
two Greenfield Garden Cinema ticket stubs,
a red Swiss Army penknife and a letter: Dear Someone
in the Future,  If you find this, you’ll want
this penknife to carve your initials in this
tree just like my girlfriend Emma and I did,
it has a pair of scissors and a screwdriver if any
of your screws need tightening, especially if you’re
an alien spaceship from another galaxy;
my Dad gave it to me when I turned 14,
it was the most important thing I could think of
to show you America 1964, and some candy
if you’re hungry.  I like the movie--so does
my Mom.  Say hi to your leader for me,
Thomas Brady.  It must a time capsule
he made for a school project.  Holding
the letter against me I peer under and around
the leaning trunk, held up three and half
feet off the ground by its branches.  Sure
enough, E.R, and T.B., inside a heart,
won’t Lucy be surprised when she
sees this, I say out loud,
but I said good-bye to her two
years ago April, didn’t I.  I lay her
dishtowel on the ground and wipe
away more dirt but I don’t find
anything.  This is more than enough.
I take the matchbox cars, the letter
the penknife and candy into the house 
and lay them on the formica topped table
to wait for the tree guy to come later
this afternoon.  He said around 2 PM, he’s got
so many trees to cut he’s running behind.
I pull out the little scissors from the penknife
and they still open without a squeak;
what d’ya think of that.

Laura Rodley's chapbook Rappelling Blue Light was nominated for a Mass Book Award. Nominated fora Pushcart Prize, her work has been in anthologies, Massachusetts Review and many others. On the advisory board of the Collected Poet Series, she works as a freelance writer and photographer.