Jackson is two now,
Dimples nearly gone for good.
Pull, cross, hook.
It is still dark this morning.
It is dark every morning.
Pull, cross, hook.
He likes to wake-up when I do,
Watches me lace my boots.
Pull, cross, right eye, left eye.
His blue eyes are rapt.
His database is smoking.
Tie. Re-tie. Tug the frayed denim.
He looks at me now. Smiles.
Still such an easy thing.
All she knew was that this place came with a mill
and logs, steady work, and a little white house.
Far away from familiar-and-binding ties,
she bundled baby Emma and followed
her husband to another fresh start.
At twenty-two, she was still more afraid of the dark
than the daylight. The mill, with its weekly paychecks,
let her pretend the cold corners of the little white house
were all her fault and not due to his shrugging and grunting,
his preference for the perfumed little thing
at the bar after work.
Still, she prayed for him at the other little white house
in the tiny mill-town. She forced herself to give thanks
for the mill and sang hymns at the top of her lungs
and taught little Emma how to choke down tears
by the grace of God.
Between nursery rhymes and Amazing Grace,
the green in her eyes turned steadily jade,
and the deeper the color, the more she could see
the deep inside of things; all the darkest shadows
of brightest daylight.
A U-haul truck is hard to pack when your only help
is a toddler with questions, but she managed
to scrape-up enough humility to return
to the familiar-and-binding ties with everyone intact –
Emma, the cats, and the still secret beauty
of one last try.
Danny Earl Simmons is an Oregonian and a proud graduate of Corvallis High School. He is a friend of the Linn-Benton Community College Poetry Club and an active member of Albany Civic Theater. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in various journals such as Naugatuck River Review, Off the Coast, Shadow Road Quarterly, Grey Sparrow, and Verse Wisconsin.