fund drive :: terri kirby erickson

She could be a Norman Rockwell painting,
the small girl on my front porch with her eager
face, her wind-burned cheeks red as cherries.
Her father waits by the curb, ready to rescue
his child should danger threaten, his shadow
reaching halfway across the yard. I take the
booklet from the girl’s outstretched hand,
peruse the color photos of candy bars and
caramel-coated popcorn, pretend to read it.
I have no use for what she’s selling, but I
can count the freckles on her nose, the scars
like fat worms on knobby knees that ought
to be covered on a cold day like this, when
the wind is blowing and the trees are losing
their grip on the last of their leaves. I’ll take
two of these and one of those
, I say, pointing,
thinking I won’t eat them, but I probably will.
It’s worth the coming calories to see her joy,
how hard she works to spell my name right,
taking down my information. Then she turns
and gives a thumbs-up sign to her father, who
grins like an outfielder to whom the ball has
finally come—his heart like a glove, opening.

sponge bath :: terri kirby erickson

Draped in towels,
my grandmother sits in a hard-backed
chair, a white bowl

of soapy water on the floor.
She lifts her frail arm, then rests it,

gratefully, in her daughter’s palm.
Gliding a wet

washcloth, my mother’s hand
becomes a cloud, and every bruise, a rain-
drenched flower.

hospital parking lot :: terri kirby erickson

Headscarf fluttering in the wind,
stockings hanging loose on her vein-roped
legs, an old woman clings to her husband

as if he were the last tree standing in a storm,
though he is not the strong one.

His skin is translucent—more like a window
than a shade. Without a shirt and coat,

we could see his lungs swell and shrink,
his heart skip. But he has offered her his arm,
and for sixty years, she has taken it.