Praise Song for She Who Would Clean the World
Late night, I hide,
broom in hand, inside the shadows
of a house seven doors down.
I make myself thin
as I pull myself
behind brittle bush and Saguaros.
In another time, I might have been
sent to blind mortals
with thunderbolt teeth and diamond eyes.
But now, I cower in the moonlight.
I’m often afraid
passing cars and early risers will catch me
brushing my way down the street.
I fear my neighbors will see only
a woman and broom sweeping over suburban sidewalks
through the desert park, past Grayhawk elementary,
then up again toward Phantom Lane
and they won’t understand the necessity to forgive
errant strips of stray candy wrapper, newspapers browned
by the sun and wrinkled by automatic sprinklers,
to purge the Palo Verde trees. I fear
they do not comprehend that purifying the mouths
of storm gutters, absolving every garbage bin
by restoring them into one perfect, shining row
will release us from a future
where no one is safe and nothing is whole.
Among the Red Rocks of Sedona,
a Soldier’s Wife Leaves No Stone Unturned
As we hike the short, steep climb into the saddle points
of red rock country, I am uneasy. Since you came home
I search for the magic words
which will open your heart, make you whole.
You won’t speak much. You don’t sleep
in our bed. You wander for hours. I don’t know where you go.
Now the sky above us is a relentless blue.
I lean, hard, between two walking sticks, hunched over
like some bewitched character in a fairy tale—
a servant girl? a beggar? Cursed
by a sorcerer who’s always jealous and never tires
of turning handsome men into trees
and all the beautiful women into doves.
Iraq is a long, long way from here.
But, across the wash, near the granite cairns,
there’s a low growl rising from the bottom of your throat,
escaping between your teeth, and
now it’s me who’s terrified. But the sound
of the wind in Pinyon Pine and Juniper leaves
fairy dust sprinkled in your hair. From the lips
of penstemon and wild lilies still in bloom,
an incantation is sung just for you, my love—
and I ask its mighty power
to grant us the one wish I have left.
Lois Roma-Deeley is the author of three collections of poetry: Rules of Hunger (2004), northSight (2006) and High Notes(2010)—a Paterson Poetry Prize Finalist. Her poems have been featured in numerous literary journals and anthologies such as Villanelles (Everyman’s Library Pocket Poets), Spillway, Bellingham Review, Artful Dodge and many more. She is a recipient of an Arizona Commission on the Arts 2016 Artist Research & Development Grant. www.loisroma-deeley.