Some Who Stayed

Misshapen wool steamed
softly
on the stove, pulled-down nylon rope
throat high where we gathered
the one place warm and
I made biscuits that
baked hard as the memories
years later
of talk in the West Virginia winter
crusty, biting layer of
glaze over a foot or more,
late snow, one said he starved himself
ate bananas and water for months
until
they rejected his skinny, draftee butt
 - not enough meat for
cannon
or even typewriter
fodder;
I kneaded and pummeled
a lump of floor and water
until dry dough flaked
all over while I heard
the ways they didnít go  -
red and gray socks funky damp
around us
so far from triple canopy jungle
hung about with leeches
soft lips ready to slip kisses
too quiet, waiting
for the first red line to
spring up, blood bracelet
discarded carelessly like a diva
might throw a twisting string
of faux rubies
from an unwanted admirer -
so far from the truth
of having stayed, laughing
half-rueful, half-relieved at not
knowing of this,
eating harsh biscuits
free to go on
with unmarked flesh.

Constance Lee Menefee
Copyright 2000