Kitchen rich with the smells
of coffee and honeydew melon,
hot steam iron
and last night's rain,
I lean against the counters
that my daughter has cleaned
and watch her
shake the blouse she's pressed,
inspect both front and back
Gee, I'm late!
Can I get a ride to school?
The house accepts my presence
as I return, displace the silence
with my reading of the sports page,
rinsing dishes in the sink.
I still can hold
return my fingers' touch.
No Longer Young
On the prairies there are barren patches.
In the jungles thick and tangled growth.
Feelings come up through our roots
and flower, fester, tremble, curl
—a process that goes on, that we can't stop.
We and all these growing things
react to what we've lost. Your fingers
on my skin now have a starchy touch.
We are who we were going to be
those many years ago when love was flush.
She neither scowled nor smiled but simply climbed,
expressionless, strapped to her back a child,
round face carved as though from glistening wood.
The path wound past a stone-walled shack
into thick brush that seemed to part
to let her pass then closed again.
A scrap of cloth—tatters of red—
flapped brief farewell and something howled:
a child? a dog? or who she once had been?
Robert Joe Stout is a journalist living in Oaxaca, Mexico, who has contributed nonfiction, fiction and poetry to a wide variety of publications. Much of his writing is focused on social and political themes involving people and events , present and past, that affect the United States and country in which he resides.