When she was twenty and he was forty
he equaled everything she wanted in a man.

Her father, a geologist descended from Rabbis,
had seen fissured gaps that would crack into ravines – 
rocks don’t fracture all at once, the process
is immeasurable to the human eye,
he explained in echoed German.

But she was Spring, flirty in organza, full
of promises. With sunlight and naiveté 
gathered into her wedding dress, 
she breezed brightly into his prime.

When the baby came they gave her a name
that means noble, for surely they were king and queen.
Thought about setting up a bottled lightning stand,
but couldn’t settle on a price for pricelessness. 

They jumped back and forth across the crevice
of themselves for thirty years; eventually,
he was more like a father than a husband.
She got sick of old records and old ideas, 
stumbled around disagreements scattered
through the house like used furniture.

First, stress fractures in varying directions –
small cracks accumulate with time.
Then shearing, textured shapes, 
Scherkluft, like compression in the gut 
irreversible strain wherein the element breaks.

This is what she’s thinking about in the hospital room
at the bottom of their canyon. Winter is lonely, 
quieter than she remembers, more bare, fewer
places for shelter. Spring too had settled down,
stood on the edge of summer and traded
like a native – white daisies and sun for
harvest leaves flaring red, then fading brown.

 

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Michelle Lyle hails from NJ and currently writes from Roswell, GA, a revived mill-town hugging her beloved Chattahoochee River north of Atlanta. She earned an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Lesley University. You can find some of her work in Iron Horse Literary Review, Lunch Ticket, Postcard Poems and ProseFried Chicken and Coffee and The Write Room. She’s honored to be included in Heartwood’s inaugural issue. If she weren’t a poet she’d be a chef, and if she were a chef she’d most like to be a poet, so she’s pretty happy how things have unfolded.