Summer Afternoon: Thimble, Needle, Notions

Debra Nystrom Click to

UnknownDebra Nystrom is the author of three books of poetry, A Quarter Turn from Sheep Meadow Press, and Torn Sky and most recently Bad River Road from  Sarabande Books.  Her work has appeared in many anthologies and journals, including Best American Poetry,  The American Poetry Review, The New Yorker, Ploughshares, Slate, The Threepenny Review,  and Yale Review.  She teaches in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Virginia.

Willy gone with his knife to open birds or clean fish, practice
lifting rows of bones out of caught bodies.  Up at the house old china-head
Beulah, Aunt Ruby’s doll, watches from her shelf beside the glass
pistol that once was Uncle Ralph’s toy, its round dead

candies still fading inside.  Annie’s stitches are snaggy, but they’ve followed
Aunt Ruby’s sampler design; Lila’s only changed the maxim.  Tilly in the corner asking not
one question till Lila complains she’s using up all the blue thread:  So?  –A tumbleweed
sprouting a ladder to somewhere is her answer when Aunt Ruby demands what

pattern is that?  What’s it supposed to teach?  –Got to make a real picture, Hon-oh,
a house with a garden, for heaven’s sake!  A purple rose then, exploding from a house
that rides choppy waves of letters spelling SOMEWHERE.  Somewhere, over the rainbow
sings Lila as finally light fades and a breeze raises each face

to the window.  Deer at the shelterbelt’s edge, lifting heads as the swallows wheel,
then one deer ripples up through the grain, the others following, into the field.