Anne Barngrover

Sometimes a ghost is not a ghost
but a column of light. A man's voice

mists in the cottonwoods, speaks
her name over and over, smooth

as egg and butter pie. A girl cannot
wear a skirt to her knees in this town.

Watch the red hens, how they squat
and murmur in their scratching

when they fear roughed hands. She
cannot walk the night bridges alone.

Watch the first forsythia creeping up
the road, petals yellow as a thumb-

pressed bruise. By evening, a faint
smell of smoked ribs. Here, spring

keeps the women so cold for so long—          
rain's fingers curling into hooks.


I passed by this place on the way to another.