Back to Issue Fourteen.

Avenue F


I go looking for you in the street.
I say to the crab apple tree, You are Frances. 

I say to asbestos shingles, What keeps you
in place
? A car with new Firestones

stops at the light, rumbling, We will never die,
though your hands could do more work. I remember you

wringing starched sheets between rollers,
hanging them on the line to dry. I’ve never been

that clean in all my life. God will never reward me
in the way I hope. Frances, you polished

the baby’s shoes. You made silver shine.
You pinned prayers to your head and shook

floor mats free of stones. The street can’t hold
my desires. Who painted those white lines?

Where does the horizon go when we reach it
Frances, there’s a dog in the road.

Your Face Belongs to the Lily


Whatever stones I’d turn over, Frances made me
put them back. When I’d unravel the hose,

I never could restore the stack of coils. If I laughed,
I’d see her study my open mouth. Sometimes,

I’d stay quiet beside her, 
                          her fingers working leaf or vine or soil.

There’s nothing that grows greater than silence.

She never said, Listen. Never said, This dirt
lines your lungs
. I breathed and breathed and the sleeves

of her work-blouse wore thin. I didn’t know

            where my knuckles sprung from
                             or the freckled legacy of my arm.     

Laura Van Prooyen is author of two collections of poetry, Our House Was on Fire (Ashland Poetry Press, 2015) and Inkblot and Altar (Pecan Grove Press, 2006). Her poems also have appeared in The American Poetry ReviewBoston Review, and Ploughshares, among others. Van Prooyen lives in San Antonio, TX. For more, visit

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