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Janet Buck
Parting Drapes

Parting Drapes

How did you survive the frost—
knowing the book would close,
music would stop, a pulse would quit,
and you would be left in a room
surrounded by empty chairs?
Six long months with death for drapes—
your hands were always drawing them.
Back and forth, the steel screeched
as if it were an oil rig
plumbing a desert for hope.
You messed with even valances,
tugging at puffs as if this skirt
could ever hang over the going bone.
Inviting in the hiding sun,
blue batiks of fading skies
becomes commitment's old career.
You sign forever in the sand;
someone kicks it in your eyes.

All palms are idle in the end,
tortilla husks that speak
of curdled, passing meals.
Little scraps of ivory moons
bequeathed to soil, then covered up.
Rage drops anchors in the mud
and dying sails the fitful sea,
testing every rope we own.
You kept his college photograph
in every room you wandered through—
touched the glass as if to print it with a wish.
Fed him ice chips, spoons of yogurt,
watched the drips deliver fluid to the sand,
packed his watch and wedding ring—
took it home and stored it there—
where every clock had lost its dial.
Adoring him was not a chore
even when his face was ash.

Poet's Biography:
Janet Buck is a six-time Pushcart Nominee and the author of four collections of poetry. Her work has recently appeared in CrossConnect, The Pedestal Magazine, Stirring, Arbutus, Poetry, Niederngasse, Coelacanth, Offcourse, MiPo, Offcourse, The American Muse, and others. Her poetry is scheduled to appear in Zuzu's Petals Quarterly, Artemis, The Montserrat Review, Recursive Angel, The Foliate Oak, Southern Ocean Review, PoetryBay, and The Oklahoma Review. For links to more of her work, visit This is her second appearance in three candles.

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