From Opening the Mouth of the Dead
- A Note on the Text
- The Unanswered Note
- Horizontal Memories of Tea
- For Noticing I No Longer
- For Not Playing Dead
- The Oldest Lunchroom Lady
- The Order of Their Living
- For Not Permitting a Man’s Heart To Be Taken from Him
- The Day I Hit My Father
- Suicide Attempt IV:
A History of the South
- She Said Yes
The Oldest Lunchroom Lady
Has a big smile even though she’s missing
Part of a tooth. Takes tickets as fast
As Aunt Betty shells butter beans.
So fast it’s hard to tell who is reduced
Or free. She wanted to teach school,
But her daddy died during the Depression.
She got a job in the cafeteria and helps
With three Vacation Bible Schools.
Mother has her read to her first-graders
During rest time. She always reads two books.
First a short one for the sleepers. Then a longer
one without as many pictures. When she takes
A ticket, sometimes she squeezes your hand,
Even if you are a sixth or seventh grader.
Says over and over: Mind yourself, child.
Published in Southern Poetry Review