Justin Hamm

She looked to the wide open sky.
She looked to her own
scabby knuckles.
She looked to the women
working in the long shadow
of the farmhouse
and she settled, finally, on neither suitor
in favor of backbreaking labor—
turning her first love to a heap
of sorry black ash,
his rival to a thunder that would one day
shake all the flatlands
stretched out like forever around her.
Daughter, don’t cry, said her mother.
Time, she’s a healer, said her auntie,
a widow twice over.
And their harsh faces, their terrible
angular faces,
like two weatherbeaten old rocks
between the trousers on the clothesline,
made it seem to her
they had never been anything
but ancient.

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