Fall 2010, Volume 9

Poetry by Helen Wickes

You Were One of Us

Some of our dead—we know where they’re buried,
the old pear orchard or behind the chapel,
others, into what river someone threw her ashes,
but now you, you’re dead and we have no obituary,
don’t know if you’re gone to ash or casket, don’t know
who mourned or prayed or wept or turned away
or sighed over what remained of the you
that popped in each Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving,
buttoned up, but full of yourself, vague and adrift,
clumsy and cold, but you were always one of us,
so who else is out there saying so long?

New Moon Over Jennersville

The cold snow blowing sideways,
whole sky opening wide over the fields,
he’s dying a few miles back there.
Just for tonight I leave the dying
and the living who tend to them
and stop my car to watch the Amish guy
with his team of flaxen-maned chestnuts
churn the cornstalks through new falling snow—
and three crows desultory across the sky,
snow now quitting, the sunset brilliant
this final day in January. But, oh Lord,
spare me another Norah Jones song
on my radio tonight, to hell with her ship,
her flag, her wail. Wherever home is,
I’m on my way there.


BIO: Helen Wickes lives in Oakland, California, and worked for many years as a psychotherapist. In 2002 she received her M.F.A. from Bennington College. Her first book of poems, In Search of Landscape, was published in 2007 by Sixteen Rivers Press. Her poems can be read and heard online at From The Fishouse. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in AGNI Online, Confrontation, Eclipse, South Dakota Review, Stand, Runes, ZYZZYVA, Zone 3, Chicago Quarterly Review, Natural Bridge, Santa Clara Review, Limestone, The Spoon River Poetry Review, Bryant Literary Review, Southwestern American Literature, The Coe Review, Crucible, The Jabberwock Review, Kaleidoscope, Pleiades, PMS poemmemoirstory, SLAB, The Griffin, Salamander, Epicenter, Poetry Flash, In the Grove, CQ, CSPS, Freshwater, Schuylkill Valley Journal of the Arts, 5 AM, the Bennington Review, and the anthology Best of the Web 2009.