by Sally Zakariya

Not in the Obituary

So little of life, so little
that is vivid or true
gets into the obituary

The way she always
had just the right quote
ready on her tongue

The way he always
whistled the old songs
full, rich, round

They were bookish
the two of them—
his job as research
librarian, her novel
for children—those
got into the obits

Not his slow Southern
voice or her hold-over
Victorian manners

Not his woodblock prints
and carpentry

Not her backyard garden
and skillful sewing

Not their tidy burial
under a headstone

flat to the ground
for ease of mowing


On the Porch in June

I feel the breeze on my face
see it turn the leaves inside out
see them catch the sun, shifting
like so many semaphores sending
signals to each other

On the neighbor’s oak a large
burl I never noticed before
and I only now see how the mint
slants North, each stalk its own
compass needle

The breeze carries a scent of ripe
fruit though no fruit grows
here—call it simply ripeness
a scent that says something
about life

How much we miss from inside
like the sudden gust that sets leaf
shadows dancing, that carries
the love songs of the sparrows
and ripples the long grass