In the Dell
The farmer takes a wife. She’ll grow
into a woman with an acid tongue. Now, though,
young enough to be his daughter,
she’s grateful and contrite. She’ll slaughter
his pigs and chickens, tend his small fire,
put up with sweat and swearing, acquire
the habit of servitude. It suits her, clings
like thin cotton or flannel. When she sings,
it’s songs she doesn’t really know the meaning of,
words of women who have tasted love
along with heartache. For her, though, no call
for such notions. What she has now is all
she can look forward to. Wait, you want to say.
Take your time. There must be a way,
another life, an option. Even the new hired man,
with his gentle manner and sure hand.
But what can you do? You want to say look
out. But it’s no use. You sigh, close the book.
Leave her to her chores. Let her retreat.
The farmer’s wanting his supper, demanding meat.
Antonia Clark works as a medical writer and editor. She has also taught poetry and fiction writing and is co-administrator of an online poetry forum, The Waters. She is the author of a poetry chapbook, Smoke and Mirrors (Finishing Line Press, 2013) and a full-length poetry collection, Chameleon Moon (David Robert Books, 2014). Her poems and short stories have appeared in numerous print and electronic journals, including The Cortland Review, The Pedestal Magazine, and Rattle. Toni lives in Vermont, loves French picnics, and plays French café music on a sparkly purple accordion.