Janet McCann


First clue I know right off—
“Dwight’s competitor.”  I write ADLAI
and mother resurfaces, angry: “How can we
beat ‘I Like Ike’?  ‘I’m madly
for Adlai’?  We’ll lose.” And we did.

I have her button somewhere, all it says
is ‘Adlai Stevenson.’ Other clues
fall into place, some bringing images,
some not.  I am supposed to do this,
the doctor suggested, for my mind,
that the syllables may not
slide down the fading roundnesses of brain,
collect in the dark skull
between the hemispheres.

But you really do it for your soul.  You want
the secret message, from the Puzzler
to you alone, the hidden word
spelled diagonally or hidden otherwise.
After the Andrea Doria, and
the poor dog abandoned in space,
triumphs and tragedies and trivialities,
and what the devil is a kep?
You want to be in it, then, a part of the puzzle.
Your own name. Evoked, included.
When it’s all filled in.

In the Front Garden

Solitude: the iron chair, the table.
Leaves drift down as I write.
The rake upended, the watering can
overturned, the hose an untidy curl.

Jasmine and pittosporum
and weeds that grow uninvited,
rusty clippers, a two-step ladder,
empty flower pots, one broken.

This November day, the 1280th
of my widowhood. You clipped bushes,
mowed back jasmine.  I see you
now, taking the empty chair.

You don’t accuse me of neglect,
point out the rubbish.  You are just there.
The leaves fall to the table.
Perhaps tomorrow I will tidy up.

Janet McCann is “an ancient Texas poet.”  Her last collection is The Crone at The Casino (Lamar Univ. Press, 2013)