Better Late Than Never

by L. C. Ricardo

We leap-frogged so from faithless February
to frank, upright October; my head's still reeling.
Our rattling backdrop wheeled from snowdrops
and tight-fisted, tadpole daffodils to blackberry thistles
whilst we gained our footing. Us two,
standing stones who had only just turned
toward each other on the platforms of grit and stone,
the cogs of wheels turning.  At the time,
the glassy wind carried
an old woman's cackle from the cusp of a century;
a book snapped shut on the dried ink of her divination.
Your smile is watered by the sun in autumn,
a pretty, thin shining that fails to fortify
my hands, and butterflies. We never did cultivate
virgin ground, much less plant the eager barley.
Now, where there should rise waves of corn and the shoulders
of hills shrugging off wheat, there are picked-over briars.
A dark bird lurks on my shoulder.
I mistook your blank face for your back,
and thought to turn the mask, the way summer turns
earth's growing outward.
If I can grasp through the wickless tangles
for the last unspoilt rose, shed its petals
for drops of blood, perhaps they will flush furrows
and hollow bones with iron ebb and flow.
This time next year — coquettish, yellow year —
we could have half a harvest.

L. C. Ricardo has published poetry in The Sandhill Review, Red Poppy Review, Bolts of Silk, Mirror Dance, and work forthcoming in Enchanted Conversation. Her short story, "The Debt," received an honorable mention for the 2012 Tuscany Prize for Catholic Fiction and will be published in the 2012 Tuscany Prize for Catholic Fiction: Collected Short Stories. She holds an MA in Arthurian Literature from Bangor University and hopes someday to visit Norway and to own a spinning wheel. Visit her at her blog, Spinning Straw into Gold.

When asked to name her favourite fruit, she replied as follows: "it depends on the time of year. Currently, my favorite is the kumquat, which has much to do with its cool name, though it is also delicious in pies, salads, and dressings. Plus, if you eat too many, your lips go numb."

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