Looking for Christina

in the autumn field behind the house
        wheat sheaths, waving at the Blue de France sky
belong more to Van Gogh than Wyeth. Say it’s 1948
        and a girl finds herself
between stalks of grain, the strains of family

        mother hums Buttons and Bows, and father mutters at the radio.

It’s as if she can inhale sounds that make a moment

        which years later whispers itself back
she’s stirring soup in the kitchen
        both parents long dead

To be in the field again.
        To stand outside of your life
the day stepping over your absence

There and         not there

        Like Christina

He saw her from a third story window, picking blueberries
        “like a crab on a New England shore,”

painted a world around her
        left her a meadow she could remember

an idea in a pink dress
Alone in the Automat

       after Edward Hopper

Lights reflect fluorescent moons
on night’s window behind her

The tea has gone cold
but her ungloved hand will not let go

the blue cup, asleep in its saucer
She sits across from his absence

knows its shape as well as her own

In her pocket, his letter lies torn at the fold
lines, the words ink- smudged

have long forgotten their meanings

Around the corner, in her third- floor room
her valise waits bored with itself

She will sit at this table for years
its white Formica falling out and back in of fashion

yellow cloche hat not quite hiding her face
wool coat, the wrong shade of green
for the future.
What she will remember

        after N.C. Wyeth “Washday on the Maine coast”

That sheets billowed on the clothesline
as if boats in the bay below
had lost their sails

That filled with summer
Father’s yellow shirt hung upside down
and waved its secret language

That bent over the washbasin in the grass
Mother kept looking out to sea
for some answer to come in with the tides

That across the cove, a young girl
just like her in a cotton dress
sat on a doorstep, and looked back

That morning purpled around her
as if she was living inside of a lilac

That there was nothing special about the day
That home was the smell of salt.
~ ~ ~

Babo Kamel’s poems have appeared in literary reviews in the US, Australia, and Canada. Some of these include Painted Bride Quarterly, Abyss & Apex, The Greensboro Review, Cleaver, The Grolier Poetry Prize, Contemporary Verse 2, Rust +Moth, Mobius, Journal of Social Change, and 2River Review. She was a winner of The Charlotte Newberger Poetry Prize and is a three-time Pushcart nominee. Her chapbook, After, is forthcoming with Finishing Line Press. Find her at: babokamel.com