Mulberry Storm

Heaven howled at sundown
then all night
pelted every window
shook every door
reminding me
when I was a child
and the great aunts
turned off the radio and all the lights
and whispered and watched
the clock.

Next morning tree limbs
on the roof rattled
no secrets from the bedroom ceiling.
Just a bit of plaster.
Old kitchen pipes gurgled.
Cold cellar floor puddled.
The east stone wall felt damp,
not breached.

Outside between the next door
downspout and mine
a small lake had pooled–
twigs, leaves, dark fruit mash–
all ripped in greedy storm
from my great old mulberry.

Soldiering stagnation
I stood in stiff black boots,
thrashed a ragged straw broom,
until the clogged drains cleared
and the walkway
between neighbors swept
of debris, but not of silence…
This moat between the new
invisible landlord
and my ancient roots.


First poetry editor of Aphra and Ms., Yvonne has received poetry NEAs (1974, 1984) and a Leeway (2003) for fiction (as Yvonne Ch ism-Peace). Anthologies featuring her poems include: Bosque Press #8, Foreign Literary Journal #1, Quiet Diamonds 2018, 161 One-Minute Monologues from Literature, This Sporting Life, Bless Me, Father: Stories of Catholic Childhood, Catholic Girls, Tangled Vines, Celebrations: A New Anthology of Black American Poetry, Pushcart Prize, and We Become New. Verse memoir excerpts can be found at Poets Reading the News, Rigorous, Headway Quarterly, Collateral, WAIF Project, Brain Mill Press’s Voices, Cahoodaloodaling and Edify Fiction.

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