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Steve Myers

Once There Was a Way

Portrait of a woman (with Cactus) by Frederick Carl Frieseke

Low-slung background sound streaming from Sirius
radio, piano vamp, then vocal: “…sleep, pretty darling
do not cry, and I will sing…,”

.                                                as yesterday’s lullaby
afternoon in the meeting room, down the long, reflecting
table, when she turned
to the four across from her,
all early twenties, their masks half-moons, all signing
with the semaphore of flashing eyes—
.                                                                  tell us. A story
of piecework, sleeplessness. Night sweats. Bad bargains.
Of sweet voices and hard partings, choices made to land
her here, hogar, her words
.                                             island-inflected—Dominican?
till among us a slow drift toward drowsing, as if
becalmed, afloat on golden waters somewhere between
sueño and oración
.                               and she on the pier of a far harbor,
singing with a tenderness not meant for us, my ear, fallible
with distance and the years, catching wisps and fragment
of what’s possibly
.                                 Duérmete mi niño, as I lean shoreward,
my old man’s near-certainty seeing no end to her loneliness.

November 2nd, 5 p.m. South as the crow flies, the Pleiades
flicker on.
.                  You glitter-eyed sisters, no end to yours.


About the writer:
Steve Myers has published a full-length collection, Memory’s Dog, and two chapbooks. A Pushcart Prize winner, he has published sections of his Pennsylvania poem sequence in places such as Callaloo, Juxtaprose, Kestrel, Penn Review, Permafrost, The Southern Review, Stone Canoe, Tar River Poetry, and Valley Voices. He is a director of the MFA in Creative Writing and Publishing program at DeSales University. Explore more of Steve Myers work in the new PDF pamphlet Once There Was a Way from Buttonhook Press.

Image: Portrait of a woman (with Cactus) by Frederick Carl Frieseke (1874-1939). Oil on canvas. 36.3 x 29 inches. 1930. Public domain.

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