Moved to Key West, hoping.
What was money after all?
Rented first, then judiciously purchased:
high windows, wide, morning light.
Afternoons moved to quiet sidewalks,
portable easel, small stool:
plein air with magenta, emerald,
flourish of sun-kissed wrist.
What was widowhood after all?
Joined the guild, showed her paintings,
won a prize, sold several.
Pelicans two by two on posts
that rose up out of perpetual sea.
best to drop the hen’s egg in
just before the bubbles look like
your mother’s face that time she came home
reeking of beer and men’s cheap cigars
a hundred trees to fill a trough
and now your father’s ghost is laughing
’cause he tricked you into walking these woods
to nail old empty metal buckets
clear and thin thickening to amber
as your uncle turns to take a piss
muttering how the goddamned family’s
syrup stinks when he kisses your lips
KATHARYN HOWD MACHAN’s most recent publication is What the Piper Promised, winner of the 2018 Alexandria Quarterly Press chapbook competition. She lives in Ithaca, New York, with fellow poet Eric Machan Howd, and teaches in the Department of Writing at Ithaca College.