The women of suburbia water the lawn,
the trees, the flowers when July turns thatch
to prairie stubble. It is the least they can do. They are worried
about growing old, so they unleash themselves unto the spigot.
Watching the windowed version of themselves, they worry.
What they cannot clean, cannot spruce, cannot whittle away.
Seeing themselves in their progeny. They worry them, too,
worry through their hands worrying the dish cloth, the bed sheet.
The next meal they will wring from the worried faucet, the worried
flame. Their daughters worry about partners and money and babies.
What happens when worried dreams become just dreams.
Their fathers worry about what is broken and can’t be fixed.
The worry of daughters facing a worried world. What girls need
out there. Whether to arm themselves. What to ferry across state lines.
What worry they will be left with after leaving worry behind.
Here in the quiet Midwest, even the neighbors worry—about moths
invading the cul de sac, about no rain, the water bill, their dog
who went lame, the son who is leaving, this time, maybe for good.
This time, maybe, they will only worry when he finally drives away,
Worrying following him until soybeans hit scrub, thinning, thinning.
Ellen Stone taught in the public schools in Kansas and Michigan for over thirty years. Her poems have appeared in Passages North, The Collagist, The Citron Review, the museum of americana, and Fifth Wednesday among other places. Ellen is the author of The Solid Living World (Michigan Writers’ Cooperative Press, 2013). Her poems have recently been nominated again for the Pushcart prize and Best of the Net.