Diane Webster’s goal is to remain open to poetry ideas in everyday life, nature or an overheard phrase. Diane enjoys the challenge of transforming images into words to fit her poems. Her work has appeared in “Home Planet News Online,” “North Dakota Quarterly,” “Talking River Review” and other literary magazines.
The following work is Copyright © 2022, and owned by Diane Webster and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.
Sidewalk of Being
Old person has no gender –
dressed in unisex clothing
it’s a mummy searching
the sidewalk for its destination
mapped out in cement
like chalk-marked hopscotch,
hieroglyphic figures drawn
in pink and blue chalk,
freeze-thaw cracks running
wrinkles across a face –
face of the old person
shuffling along until it stops
and stares at me like a mirror
to the past or a reflection
of my future doddering
along the sidewalk of being.
Chimney still spires straight
with red brick and mortar;
shingles still allow nails
to hold them flat against
prying wind fingers;
windows scowl enough
to thwart rock throwers
so pock marks
never spread the need
like one annoying itch
leading to mass infection;
paint still adheres on the outside
like sun-bleach to bones
or spiderwebs to incautious prey.
But front steps sprout green
moss carpet creeping
onto the porch
like peeping tom footsteps
startled by screen door slamming
a shot across railing
in a warning for real
or imagined, “Get out of here!”
Esther Fishman is a poet, storyteller, and playwright. Her proudest moments so far are not placing last at her first The Moth story slam, and reading her poetry at Spoken Word Paris. Her most recent print publication appeared in Deep Overstock, a journal that features past and present booksellers.
The following work is Copyright © 2022, and owned by Esther Fishman and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.
“You’ve lost weight,” is the first thing you
say to me as I set down my suitcase in
the usual place. “It really brings out
your cheekbones. So sophisticated.” I try
not to think about the weeks
of hospital food, the repetition of that empty
motion of hand to mouth, waiting in line
eagerly for an extra package of
graham crackers. “I’m looking forward
to your meat loaf,” I say. It’s hard to remember
that you are old now, I always expect
a different time. In boxes, we keep all those old photos,
some with curvy borders and some with
the month and year stamped on their backs.
I pretend that I actually remember
those moments, all of us in front of the fireplace,
you in early 60’s satin, Dad taking the picture.
You always seem to be smiling, even though
it must have been a chore to get us
all to stand still at the same time. We always
wanted to be next to you, touching your hair, your dress.
At the door today, I expect you from
my early teens, when my curiosity about
your mysterious life was insatiable. If you left the house,
I would start going through your drawers,
looking at everything, touching everything, tremblingly
aware of any sound that might mean I’d
get caught. Once we took a special trip, just the two
of us, to Macy’s, I think to buy a dress
for my first school dance. Someone saw us
coming out of an elevator and said “You look
like sisters”—cliché as compliment—and it made
you glad all day. Did we get the dress?
I don’t remember. In the hospital, new clothes
only arrive with visitors, and most of us wore
scrubs, at least at first. We would beg
over the pay phone for someone to bring
something, anything from home, as if
a worn T-shirt or a favorite pair of jeans meant
there was some hope of normalcy. I know
you would have brought just the right thing,
if you had been close enough to visit,
because you’ve been in the hospital
too, many times, although with physical
ailments, not mental like mine. Still, you know
the routine —the boredom, the sense of confinement,
the questions. Are you thinking about
harming yourself? Does this hurt? Recently
you said that the worst part about aging was
looking in the mirror and not seeing
your own face. “I want my face back,” you said.
“Well, I have it now,” I laughingly replied, but later
I wanted to ask you– in the mirror, do you really
not recognize what is reflected?