AUNT BEULAH WON'T
A WALK AT WATERBURY*
She wears salmon, my father's aunt:
she's a sun crumbling under a raggedy
peak, her hair is an ochre cloud —
very like a whale… A wave ready
to scuttle back to its murky deeps,
she breaks on my shore. Aunt Beulah?
I'm taking you out for a walk.
But her feet lock in the split black shoes.
She quit speaking long before Uncle
died, my aunt: her face snapped shut
at the inquest like a pale pink purse.
She was sketching when he groaned
his last (he'd laugh at her paintings,
master at humor). They never caught
the killer. Her room at Waterbury
clutches with sea things: charcoal
crabs with cobalt eyes and pea-green
shrimp squeezing out of crimson shells –
the shrinks can't get to the bottom of it.
Just for half an hour—promise!
But Aunt goes on stabbing
a hot pink husk with her pointed brush
till the hull is a streaky black
like dark sliding over water
and it seems that nothing is there…
but listen: and hear the suck
of sand as it swallows the sea. **
Nancy Means Wright