Barbelo in a Pink Dress

Walking back to the white farm house,

He laid His denim overalls

on the crustily painted porch

and cried to Himself a little.

He put the kettle on the stove

and poured hot water into a mug.

He had loved His daughter

more than His son, and every time

the mailman comes, He leaves

out cookies and milk for their journey home.

When His wife died, He left out cookies and milk

for the coroner, and swore He saw her

in a pink dress picking soybeans.

And in between each row of soybean,

dried out worms huddled around

their final resting places-

            dispersed mounds

            of dust and dried out dirt.

He swore He saw her in a pink dress

puttering out her last breaths with dust coughs

and letting the soil and worms

sift through her cracked fingers, cracked

like the land He kept in place from day to night,

kept in place like the children

who saw bright constellations

spread out above the cornfields,

locked in their rooms at night.

Carrying candles and wearing white nightgowns,

she unlocked the many doors of the house

each morning before the rooster crew out.

His daughter crawled down the stairs

where He had left out milk and cookies

on the coffee table, and she cried a little

when she saw the milk on the coffee table.

His son would cry out in the night time sometimes.

“Fairly often I have nightmares

 where You come home from the field

 and (statistics show that suicide rates

 among farmers are the highest

 of any occupation, dust sets

 on a dying industry, but You had always said

 it wasn’t an occupation, but a passing

 on of rings engraved with family names)

 but anyway, You standing there

 under the staircase,

 plaid sheets and Your father’s wicker chair,

 and I asked You what You were doing there.

 With a serene smile, You explained, and I asked You

 not to kick the chair. You said

 that it was for the best, I begged.

 You kicked the chair, and plaid sheets

 wrapped around Your twisted neck

 and wicker chair sideways

 on the flayed floorboards”

“This house is the body of this family,

 the ceiling and the floor

 the skin, and lampshades

 and the air we breathe

 the blood and vital organs.

 When the wooden floorboards

 scrape and bruise, keep your room

 in place and then the ceiling

 and the floor will meet

 at the lampshades

 and the air you breathe,”

and stoically, He draped plaid sheets

around His son’s back,

and offered warm milk

and cookies.

Crawling in her pink dress,

she didn’t look back towards him

to see the dry tears in His eyes.

The wheat fields at harvest times

waved goodbye to Him in the dust wind.

“This one’s nice,

            reminds Me when she

                        sat and let the locusts

            gnaw at her legs until

                        she bled out.”

The paint chipped on the house

on top the hill, and fenced out

by crooked barbed wire fencing,

she cautiously bit her tongue

so as not to bleed out, distracting

her from the locusts biting through her socks.

“The chipped paint

            and barbed fencing

                        symbolize the withered patriarchal

            forces keeping her from the body

                        of the house.”

After the locusts came

the dust came, so thick that layers

on your flannels and your glasses

make it hard to see. Above the wheat,

the cyclones of flurries of soil

and hawks with wings wavering

under the pressure of the wind.

“We didn’t paint the porch

            the summer that she died

                        because the dust

            was so thick

                        we couldn’t see the rotten wood.”

The dust stopped soon after she had disappeared

from the canvas, and then the rains came.

Storm clouds above the field began to form

and what began as little drops of water

carried bits of oil paint all the way down

to the wooden frame adjacent to the restrooms.

Why did they install such a sophisticated

sprinkler system in the museum of modern art

in new york? Many paintings ruined,

oil paint and watercolors blurred together

on emptying canvases, three weary pairs of eyes

dart back and forth at the museum

of modern art in new york, three pairs

of hands grasp together, searching for an exit.

Him, His son, and His daughter rushing out

into the crowded Manhattan streets.

The streets were only slightly flooded when they left

and little brown bags littered on the yellow concrete

lifted themselves into the misty air, air that splits itself

into layers when beheld, and emerging between the heavenly

layer and the earthly ones, a white horse rode furiously

through the cobbled streets, a rider draped in black monk robes

whose earthly name was written on the tapestry draped

across the mane so as to blind both, and a heavenly name

only he knew, and if you asked him he wouldn’t tell you it.

            “you know you sent my mother to her grave

                        and raised us in the grave you dug for her

                                    you talk of evil days and hands

                        but weave gently decorated tapestries

                                    across our eyes”

She darted away from her father, climbing over park benches

and crumbling tenements as She weaved herself through traffic.

She bounced across water towers and almost stepped on city buses.

She climbed the wires of brooklyn bridge, and they pierced

into Her sides and forehead as She stood in a moment of clarity

on the parapet.

She dived into the waters, was fished out,

            asked the bartender for a free beer,

                        and he gently responded, “no.”

But He had been watching all along from the tower of the brooklyn bridge,

laying himself out comfortably on a hippie rug, burning

incense sticks with his bic lighter.

                                                            He cried to himself a little when He saw

                  Her nosedive into the east river. He really had driven Her mother

into Her grave, and He felt his own grave beneath Him and His rug, but

instead of plummeting through the the undraped well contained

within the hollowed out tower of the brooklyn bridge,

He began to levitate. His head was crowned with a silk bishop hat,

and He found icons of the fall from paradise weaved into

his golden priest garments. This ski-masked magic carpet ride

above the bowery and slums, five cents for phillies

was what they paid below, but he had a gutted

and resealed cuban hanging off his lip, and his yellow teeth

morphed themselves into a twenty-four karat grill

slightly blackened by tobacco smoke, but made

sufficiently flowery by the greener smoke, but the kind

of flower that stings the soul and still gives you lung cancer. The wires

of the bridge turned yellow, the river water browning too.

He soliloquized to the ashy wind,

confidently: “I know there are those

kneeling under mother mary

pleading yahweh for my downfall

and concurrent destruction.

But I’ve seen the rabbi’s light

before the white horse and evil deeds,

so if You ever mention Me say subhanahu wa ta’ala

cause I see both sides now like anekantavada.

All those souls I spent to drench myself in fent-laced prada,

and You were under bridges burning spoons till they were black,

but I was drugging wells before benito wore balenciaga.”

With the the tassels of the rug rubbing against

the brown water, He slid above roads and bluffs

and powerplants with yellow smoke

and little trees were blurs until He periodically

lowered His altitude and brushed His feet

against the leaves. He spent almost an eternity

until He found the garden where He first laid eyes

on Her pink dress, and He cried a little to Himself

when, hovering above the farm house,

with paint just as crusty as He remembered,

He saw himself at the end of days, cracked

fingers crumbling into the ground, sitting

in His father’s wicker chair, and the son

He loved less than His daughter

draped plaid sheets around His back,

and walked out into the sunset,

leaving only skeletons

to keep the land in place.

Ethan Plate

Ethan Plate is a freshman at Lindenwood studying Creative Writing and Philosophy/Religion. He works as a tutor in the writing center, and when he gets some free time, he likes to spend it listening to music and writing poetry. He likes to play music when he can but is frankly not that motivated on that front. Ethan has liked poetry since his childhood and has been writing it devotedly for the past few years. The poetry he writes is usually religious-themed with a lot of apocalyptic imagery. He has never been published but looks forward to seeing where writing takes him. 

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