Perpetual Care at Plainview

by Leigh Anne Couch

Crossing highway one
at dawn, she shuts her eyes.
Think of her as Chronos.
Think of her as Carrion.

She sleeps standing up,
eats only seed,
gives fearsome little
smiles with her teeth

remembering our electric
skin, how we moved through
days cramming them in:
starving in a field of berries.

Honoring us, the newly
satisfied, the recently
out of time, she ties her
dandelion hair in chiffon

and walks to Plainview
where she touches stone
shoulders attentive at last.
You’re old longer than

you’re young and dead longer
than that. This is her calling.
She hears us calling. She’d
crawl from the cemetery home

to care for her old children
gone. She minds her steps
through our lengths and widths,
goes quietly to the business

of tucking us in, trimming
the yards with stubborn shears
breaking up clods of dirt
with her hands, and straightening

the waxed carnations on shaky
legs, her weather-beaten
chorus still poised to sing
you’ll miss everything.

Leigh Anne Couch lives in Tennessee and is the managing editor of the Sewanee Review. Her poems have appeared in Shenandoah, 32 Poems, Alaska Quarterly Review, Blackbird, Carolina Quarterly, Verse Daily, The Bark, and other journals. Her manuscript “Houses Fly Away” won the Zone 3 Press First Book Award and will be published in 2007.