The screen door bangs, shaking the flowers on the table,

zinnias Ella May put in a mayonnaise jar.

She’s upstairs now, packing her cardboard suitcase-

nightgown, toothbrush, shoes arranged neat as a clock.
Her mother hangs wash in the side yard. Ella, above her,
cries at the pain she will add to that heavy load:
her sister’s death, sure as the sun every morning,
knotted like the washing, close as the houseboards’ paint.
Still she shuts the grip and goes out to the bed of a sailor
whose question her father killed with a face of grief.
She leaves the zinnias, tongues of the late June morning,

loud in the jar mouth, hoping their words will heal.


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