Tell Yourself A Story

by Charlotte Matthews

To fall asleep she makes lists:
who still mow their own yard,
what books are due at the library.
This is how she becomes
tired enough.

        I call to say
        the fields have texture
        like corduroy.
        In one direction
        run furrows of the plough,
        in another, red top hay
        mottled as linen.
        Beside the field there’s
        a new fence of woven wire
        in perfect squares,
        the creek’s shadowless water
        layered with leaves.

She goes to the window
over the street where cars
are parked up close to the curb
to look out at the corner,
the few stars overhead.

        In the pasture three chestnut
        horses wear masks of netting
        so the grass at their hooves looks
        fractured as graph paper.
        At dusk they must be half blind.

        I want her to know this,
        but it is later than I thought.

Soon she’ll come to visit
so we can drive to where people
sit out Sunday afternoon
on their porches,
not even talking.

        I tell myself at least you’re trying.
        At least she would have liked this.

Author of two full length collections, Still Enough to Be Dreaming and Green Stars (both Iris Press), CHARLOTTE MATTHEWS’ Whistle What Can’t Be Said is forthcoming from Unicorn Press. Recently her work has appeared in such journals as American Poetry Review, The Mississippi Review, The Virginia Quarterly Review, and Ecotone. Her honors include fellowships from The Chatauqua Institute, The Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, and The Virginia Center for Creative Arts. Currently she teaches writing in The Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies Program at The University of Virginia.