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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & Owner
Ray Rasmussen, General Editor

Volume 12, Number 4, December 2018

Janet Lynn Davis
Grimes County, Texas, USA


She arrived at her new place just after the great Memorial Day flood and left the next spring, just after the first crippling rains. And of course, there was the long in-between part when she lost herself.

One moment I'd be her baby sister or, with luck, her daughter, and after that I was just somebody she somehow knew.

a gardener
she knelt by sunlit beds,
digging up roots . . .
the space from past to present
as brief as a dream

How she used to fly across the hardtop tennis court with racket in hand, even well beyond middle age. Then suddenly, a fledgling again, how she clutched, white-knuckled, onto the cold metal rails around her mattress or the thin arms of her wheelchair.

My brother gave her a handmade cedar bluebird house for Christmas one year, when she was still living at home. But a squirrel soon got to it, chewed it to the point where it was uninhabitable. Later, while she was in hospice, bluebirds called her name, tugged at her sleeve. "I just want . . . to go," she said to me in a voice barely audible but as clear and loud as she could muster.

time and again
she'd float off on a cloud
to her own land . . .
minutes became days,
days became minutes

At the beginning of what would be the final two weeks, an iconic song emerged from bare-edged silence and planted itself in my mind. I couldn't let go of it. From the early hours to each starless evening, the same tune, those same words, over and over. Blue skies and lemon drops. The Wizard of Oz, ah, a favorite movie of hers ever since she was small.

Rain fell like daggers, roads drowned. On the first calm morning, we learned she had maybe five days left: don't worry, you don't need to come right away. But smack in the middle of the night, another phone call: she already was gone. And somewhere around then, the song stopped. Stopped for good. Not another single bar.

that pot of gold
I used to imagine
as a child . . .
now my mother's silhouette
at the rainbow's end

Author's Note: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's The Wizard of Oz was released in 1939. "Over the Rainbow," written for that movie (music, Harold Arlen; lyrics, Yip Harburg), became Judy Garland's signature song.



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