Back with the Quakers

Betsy Sholl
You think you can handle these things:
sunlight glinting off a red Jaguar
honking at the old woman who has snagged

her shopping cart on a snow rut,
or the swaggering three-piece suit who steps
outside the bank, earless to the mossy voice

at his feet asking for spare change,
but then the crunch of something, nothing really,
under your shoe--a dirty comb, a pen cap--

completely undoes you, and it's too much,
too much, being balanced, considering
the complexity of all sides in one

syntactically correct sentence.
All the driver has to say is "Move it,
Lady," and you're back with the Quakers

who trained you to lie still and limp in the street.
Three days they stepped on your hair,
ground cigarettes half an inch from your nose,

while you lay there, trying to be against 
violence, your fists tight as grenades
and a payload of curses between your teeth,

O woman, with a mind Picasso
could have painted, giving you many cheeks,
each one turned a different way.

From Late Psalm by Betsy Sholl. Copyright © 2004 by Betsy Sholl. Reprinted by permission of the University of Wisconsin Press. All rights reserved.

Betsy Sholl

by this poet

poem
   The child takes her first journey
through the inner blue world of her mother's body,
   blue veins, blue eyes, frail petal lids.

   Beyond that unborn brackish world so deep
it will be felt forever as longing, a dream
   of blue notes plucked from memory's guitar,

   the wind blows indigo shadows under