Poems by Betsy Anderson

Woman in the Well

Silence has to have a bottom,
like the old cow well my uncles shoved a stone across,
their groans a bass to the howl the well made as
its mouth was stoppered up.

Only silence in there now, Mama said.
So underneath the stone I dug a hidey hole wide enough
to poke through acrons, pebbles, and some of Grandma’s
grapes, presents for that woman in the well.

Every time, my offerings tumbled through the damp
and mossy hair of Silence, past the eyes and lips of Silence,
through the longish skirts of Silence, and landed with
a hollow thonk between her feet.

She was ten tigers tall. I counted.
At any time she could havbe cuaght my little treats on her
tongue. Or opened her pockets and let them plock in.
Or snagged them in her knotted hands.

That would have changed my understanding,
but luckily Silence was as emptyof will as that well was
of water. Or perhaps full of will, showing me young that
everything, even Silence, has limits.

The Comstock Review, vol. 15, #2


In Search of Angels

Have you found your angels yet? Have they
pocketbooks and knees? Do they carry Kleenex,
or handkerchiefs? I’m still breathing sharp-edged air,
still trudge through dust, seeking signs of sacred scuffs.
I still reach up and rummage the sky at night,
hoping to feel an invisible feather or two.

My angels won’t be pockets or fireflies
like some, or lights hovering on the horizon.
Not nearby watchings-over, not almost
caresses on curves of not-yet cheeks,
not absences with fond hearts,
my picture kept faded in memory close by.

My angels will sling arms round my waist,
ruffle my hair with hands calloused and rough.
They’ll kiss me soundly on the lips,
pull me onto featherbed laps, tell me songs
of sea-riding trees and plausible snails
and they’ll rock me, rock me, rock me.

Have you spotted one yet? Can you see
where she buttons your wings to her back?

Comstock Review, vol. 14, #1