Brenda Hellen: Two Poems
All the Ways We Die | The Dance
All the Ways We Die
He returned to town when his father died
and rode the motorcycle willed to him down my street
to find me pushing a stroller. I left my child
with a neighbor, and when my hands touched his waist,
remembered all his bodyís wire and grace.
Within miles my kisses blazed down his neck
and across his back. Not because I loved him anymore
or because of his grief, but because of the sunís heat,
and the freeway, nearly empty, cut straight across the state,
and because years before, in an orchard, I had wanted a bite
out of every apple he picked. And I thought
let the end be like this: nothing but the wind, the body
a flying shadow in the last minutes of sun then gone
its warmth heating anyoneís lonesome road, the miles beyond.
Past midnight and from the cracked door
of my bedroom I spy on my mother. My mother,
who never listened to rock and roll, who only
two-steps and polkas, is in the living room
beating the air with her hands, swinging
her hips, dancing in circles for the man
half her age brought home from a bar.
Father left again two weeks ago.
Why dance? I want to ask her. No song
will move you past sadness into a loverís arms,
or from this poor house on Elm to a road
out of town. Your body canít shed a drowned
man or three children with his eyes. Mother,
turn, pull me from the dark, shut off
the music, point the boy home. Put your arms
around me, kiss me, say the lost words
to change this night, before I grow old.
Brenda Hellen is in her final year of the MFA program at Minnesota State U-Mankato, where she
teaches freshman composition and introduction to creative writing. She lives in Belle Plaine, Minnesota with
her husband and two-year old son. This is her first publication.