Two Poems by Hattie Wilcox

River Glistens

river glistens and flows in my direction
bathes me in the peace of its rippling
trees lean in to canopy the shelters
beavers have built against its banks
a lawn of insects hover and hunt
birds twitter and so do I

what is it about a river’s glide
why does it soothe and call my soul
to rest in the depths of icy cold
where fish stand and tadpoles dart
in the shallows of their quiet
private few inches of the world

flower petals float in the current
ducks dive for bugs, right then left
paddle, honk, stretch their necks
in the shimmery crystal silver light
the wind begins to whistle, whips up
near-dead leaves to dance, spin
twist, and after one last leap
drift to the ground to sleep

the shore edge beckons
I squat in the mud and listen
inhale the ebb and flow
of jays and sparrows
as they flit and dot the branches
then no sound, exaggerated
seconds of utter silence
before a ragged, bearded fellow
steps from behind a thicket
shuffles to the bank
and casts his makeshift line

the sun begins its descent
something new plays in the air
an edgy, percussive rhythm
hiccups of profanity, a cough
the smoke alarm of a burning cigarette
the swish of a fishing line
in and out of the water
all the while hunger, relentless
hovers like dusk as it rolls in
a soft blanket on the hard night

Class of 1949

Raleigh NC. Nicknames.
If you didn’t have one
you were not in style:
Billy “Ugly” and “Fat Boy” Jimmy
Henry “Nose” and “Weazie” Louise
Sara “Dude”, Iris “Stinky”
“Popcorn” John and “Monkey” Moran
Ronny “Lover” and Clara “Little Bit”
Charles “Gorilla”, Ann “Horse”
Janet “Rabbit Eyes” and Bobby “Goose”
Francis “Shotgun”, Nancy “Sluggo”
Louis “Moogoo” and Margaret “Peeps”

The high school newspaper
asked everyone to state something
they were wild about. Cheers rose for:
dancing with short boys
cigarettes, whiskey, and wild women,
Studebakers, guns, back seats, and
black Pontiac convertibles
any kind of smokin’ engine
fried chicken, banana splits and blondes
drinkin’ wine spo-de-odee
sipping socials, be-bop
and a big brunette

and something that irked:
wasted sunshine
pigs and bad tempers
homework on the weekend
insects on the beach
flat tires, Monday mornings
and the miles between
here and South Carolina
poetry, apple polishers
and dateless Fridays
oysters, oil trucks
exams and onions
speed cops, geometry
and insincerity

Seniors at last, all said goodbye
with their dreams and desires:

move to China
own a country home in
bluegrass Kentucky
take Sinatra’s place
grow to be five feet tall
a pearl diver, nurse
psychiatrist, drummer
swim the English Channel
become the first woman president
run an orphanage, get a tan
learn to drive and
stay out of trouble
own a horse farm
move to the beach
weigh 200 pounds and
make the Duke basketball team
learn to fly, see Honolulu
get back to Texas
ride into the sunset
in a white canvas
top-down baby blue
Cadillac convertible