Ellen Stone

Daughters leaving home in the age of aggression

Outside the night window, cicadas call – or tree frogs –

I never seem to remember which small thing. Soft

 

warning, this seething settling around the house. Racket

loud as the cars on the freeway at rush hour. Now calm

 

somehow, as if the grass was gossiping a bit, rustling

& whispering: What is really happening in the subdivision?

 

Neighborhood news from the elementary school erupts –

young parents wondering which teacher their children

 

will have? What old silver and shoes someone gently lays

on the sidewalk berm, as if to say they’ve walked away.

 

Our protected everydayness. When I pull warm

sheets from the dryer, the fabric still smells of their skin.

 

How much of a miracle this is – as if girls’ cells still remain

wrapped up in the fibers of cloth. The basement floor

 

cool beneath boxes stored there, spread out like Lincoln logs

used to be – these filled with blue plastic plates, opaque

 

glasses, college texts, twin sheets twining round what is left

behind. How to let them go into this world of strong arms,

 

of the armed? Their grandpa & his rifles like nostalgia,

how he taught us to hunt, but fear each other, watch

 

out for ourselves, not let anyone be the savior. Now,

slick talk at the top of the food chain & a woman still

 

seems like fresh meat. The word jackal too good,

coyotes too monogamous for these human beasts

 

of commerce. Of stripped blood and bone. I listen too

much, as if the wind had a scent I could follow – as if

 

I knew how to track my daughters out there in the world –

this place of twisted facts, rabid dog eat dog, aggression gone

 

haywire. We’ve taught them to trust, but every time

choppers lift above the tree line here whirring in a rush,

 

headed for the hospital in an emergency route, I think

of their war. Do I tell them: prepare to arm/don’t prepare?

 

Ellen Stone taught special education in the public schools in Kansas and Michigan for over 30 years. Her poems have appeared recently in Passages North, The Collagist, The Citron Review, The Museum of Americana, and Fifth Wednesday. She is the author of The Solid Living World (Michigan Writers’ Cooperative Press, 2013). Ellen’s poetry has been nominated multiple times for a Pushcart prize and Best of the Net. .