Russell Rowland

I nearly walked over you, entering
your little plot off there in the woods,
fenced with stone, your name etched
in stone above two dates; your sleep,
since 1846, a testimony to the name.

Why did parents do that (it was once
the fashion, I know): christen babies
with names that would jacket them
all their lives. Stomp your foot until
Mother shakes a finger: “Patience!”

Endless waits for your birthday, for
spring, for O-Be-Joyful to grow up
from playmate to helpmate (he died
before you), for yourself to become
a woman, for your Savior to return.

Wait your turn at hopscotch. Wait,
never letting your tummy grumble,
until Papa finally reaches his Amen
and slices the roast turkey. Await
the snow-storm of apple-blossoms.

Sabbaths, Pastor told you children
of a perfect heaven: golden streets,
angel’s wings for the well-behaved.
I did the math—you died at twelve.
Couldn’t wait, could you, Patience?

Seven-time Pushcart Prize nominee Russell Rowland writes from New Hampshire’s Lakes Region, where he has judged high-school Poetry Out Loud competitions. His work appears in Except for Love: New England Poets Inspired by Donald Hall (Encircle Publications), and “Covid Spring, Vol. 2” (Hobblebush Books). His latest poetry book, Wooden Nutmegs, is available from Encircle Publications.

© Variant Literature Inc 2021