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Friday, May 08, 2020


by Juditha Dowd

"Lifeline" by Pascal Campion

The trucker is hauling food. We often hear him down on
the river road around this hour, hitting his Jake brakes,
slowing his rig on the curves. The sound bounces up and out,
finds us here on College Hill—wide-awake at four o’clock,
trying to return to sleep. He pauses at the highway ramp,
crosses the river, picks up speed. Soon he’ll unload at a market,
where workers rush to stock the shelves, where items spurned
for years are in demand: dry beans, yeast and prunes.
And here in the dark I’m my grandmother’s little girl again,
helping to squeeze red dye into bags of oleomargarine, waiting
to eat the biscuits she’ll take from her small white oven
while she listens to the radio, hopes there may be a letter today
from my uncle in the Army. Always the waiting. For the
the morning paper, twice-daily mail. Always we want news.
Bless our neighbor leaving now for what must be essential work.
Beams from his headlights circle the room. Birds are beginning
to stir, recalling those childhood mornings when I rose ahead of
my family, roused by their chorus, lifted into the dawn on wings.
After breakfast I’ll weed radishes we planted on a day that seems
like years go. Despite a killing frost, they’ve sprouted leaves.
Light is on the way. See how the air is whitening? That there’s
food … and those who must be fed. No certainties but these today.

Juditha Dowd’s latest book is Audubon’s Sparrow, a verse biography in the voice of Lucy Bakewell Audubon, out this month from Rose Metal Press. She has contributed work to many journals and anthologies, including Poet Lore, Poetry Daily, Spillway, Ekphrasis, Rock & Sling, and Florida Review.