Barbara Southard


His left eye is swollen shut from the punch

the night before and I can see how blue

his eyes are by looking at his right eye,

how the pupil, as black as night, is not round,

but has a tear drop shape dropping from its center

as if he was perpetually weeping for the world he lives in.

Preacher Ollie comes over from the mission

across the street and Diane walks over

from the boarding house, the small front porch

of this broken down house filled with neighbors,

all trying to get from one day to the next, the

labor pool down the street closed till early morning.

Sarah puts her arms around me and I can see

vestiges of her beauty in a face savagely beaten

years ago, her brain not working as well as it used to,

her walk unsteady, an old photo of herself before,

sitting on the table just inside the door

And as the hot sun slips dowOVn in a purple haze,

they tell stories of  West Virginia, the swamps of Georgia,

of better days before diabetes takes some toes off, or a leg,

before Mary needed a wheelchair, before Tom’s heart gave out.

We sit in the blue light of night, Doug’s bruised eye taking on

a luminescent glow, his good eye

casting a cool all-knowing light over all of us.

BARARA SOUTHARD currently serves as Suffolk County Poet Laureate. Until the time poets can gather together again, she spends her time connecting with poets through Zoom, go-to-meeting, and any other safe way to help keep the wheels rolling in our beloved poetry community.