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Richard Widerkehr

At O’Hare Airport: Her Foxgloves

Fighting Forms by Franz Marc

As I walk toward baggage check, my cell phone rings.
In an almost neutral tone, the male nurse
says, The retest confirms it—your PSA has doubled.
He suggests an appointment with oncology.
I sit on a steel bench. As passengers

glide toward terminals, I picture our mother’s garden
where we sang, walk toward glass walls,
see I’ve forgotten my briefcase
and turn back. Amazing, still there. I get on
the moving walkway, find a taxi

driven by a young man from Ethiopia,
ask what his country is like. We ride
into the city, lights flashing, buildings floating.
He punches a number on his cell phone,
tilts the screen toward me.

I watch a video about caverns—
white rubble, stone burrows curving
in sunlight. King Solomon went there,
he tells me. I’m Jewish, I say.
Yisrael, he says, exactly

as we pronounce it in synagogue.
I imagine our mother’s foxgloves—
spots of magenta, ink in crevices,
a black bee, upturned bells. The man’s smile
goes back three thousand years.


About the writer:
Richard Widerkehr’s work has appeared in OPEN: Journal of Arts & Letters (O:JA&L), Rattle, Writer’s Almanac, Verse Daily, and many others. He earned his M.A. at Columbia University and won two Hopwood first prizes for poetry at the University of Michigan. His third book of poems, At the Grace Cafe, has recently been published by Main Street Rag Press. He reads poems for Shark Reef Review.

Image: Fighting Forms by Franz Marc (1880-1916). Oil on canvas. 35.8 x 51.1 inches. 1914. Public domain.

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