ACROSS THE WIDE MISSOURI
Since you drifted away, taking your heartAnd leaving me with your wavelets as part
Of longing to be with you, I shall go
Now, for we know life’s not art, but the slow,
High way of reconciliation, one
Space between separation’s craving bone
And the chill-healing drive
To see myself without the bride
These words fail to page, praying softly
As dreams break in floods arias
River into your voice I give away,
Seeing your face rescued in every wave.
I quit my bottle of Angry Orchard.My mouth seeped childhood’s tree.
You leaned into a willow
And knelt into our roots.
Your cider fuzzed my lips in vain:
You kept Love in fee-simple absolute.
Shelby Stephenson’s Family Matters: Homage to July, the Slave Girl won the Bellday Prize for Poetry, 2008, Allen Grossman, judge, and the Oscar Arnold Young Award from the Poetry Council of North Carolina, 2009, Jared Carter, judge. Shelby Stephenson’s Maytle’s World is forthcoming from Evening Street Press.