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Sample Poems by Linda Aldrich

Seeing Red

The cardinal goes after his reflection
in the window, then makes slow slides
down, like kites do when the wind dies.
A red flag thrown at me all morning,
morning of hard rain, dark like eclipse,
wet tree trunks bare of green, fist
of held breath, bulb of rage.
I do the things I need to do: get wood
from the dwindling pile, make a fire
I can turn my back to while I pay bills.
Today, I will drive over to see you,
bring photos and soup. I will remember
your yellow pantsuit. I will do the right thing,
show you’re forgiven if the words don’t come.
But the bulb cracks its strange and strangled
density, punching out the walls of rooms
where I have kept myself to please you.
I am the green stalk of the amaryllis.
The immensity of my bloom will carry me.

What’s Going Around

Chalk circles around women’s bodies,
a murder mystery of the 50’s. Circling
back to when the bodies appeared.
The hula hoop contest in JM Fields
parking lot, girls twirling hoops
over Easter dresses, hoping for a win.
Hips gyrating, pumping to victory.
The Hopis say the sacred hoops are broken.
Perhaps the circles, too: sewing circles,
church and reading circles, smoke circling
above the old aunts at the kitchen table
doing crossword puzzles, filling
ashtrays with gray accomplishment.
And the red marks your mother pressed
on tissues, her mouth an O of Siren Red,
closing down on what she could have said,
her kisses saved for blotting.

You Tell Me

You are the prettiest mother at my school,
not just my class, but the entire school.
Everyone says you’re the new Elizabeth Taylor.
National Velvet is exactly how you looked at that age.
You have a perfect widow’s peak. Most women
have to draw a peak with a pencil, but not you.
You have such a good figure, people can’t believe
you had a baby. Someone even asked you in Hill’s
department store if I was your little sister. Imagine that.
Yesterday, a plane flew low over the backyard
when you were out in your bathing suit.
It flew back again so the pilot could have another
good look: your legs tan to such a perfect,
glistening color. Not like my tan
that looks like I rubbed dirt on myself.