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Latest Letter and other Poems




These new poems read by Becca at the conference grow out of her ongoing dialogue with her Ohio Mennonite community.

LATEST LETTER

p.s.—Corn’s shorter than usual this late into August.
p.s.—They’ve cut down the cedars lining Nussbaum Road. Don’t know
how many locals have missed that turn.
p.s.—We’re still refusing to get a stoplight.
p.s.—Your neighbor’s draft horses nearly drowned
in quicksand. Took six men and two tractors, but they’re fine.
p.s.—Your sister’s little ones are as cute as they come! (How long
have you been married now?)
p.s.—If only you could see the sun at dusk
turn the white barns pink—the best silent movie.
p.s.—Your parents got caught taking in recycling
at night: wine bottles they’d been saving...
p.s.—Six couples at church celebrating their 50th’s. Now—
how long have you been married?
p.s.—Remember how tar bubbles up
on gravel roads? Here, we’re in the thick of it.
p.s.—Remember the dead G.H owl in your daddy’s
plum orchard? It’s next in line at the taxidermist.
p.s.—What meats are you making for your company
at dinner? We just can’t get enough
of your Grandma Ruth’s ham balls.
p.s.— Thanks for the note last week. What do you mean
by “tofu” and “kefir”?
p.s.—The Gazette’s weekly headline: “Pig Causes Traffic Accident.”
p.s.—Your parents said ‘no’ to buying the farm (How long
have you been married?)
p.s.—Your Grandma butchered chickens
on the clothesline this morning.
p.s.—Hoods burned down the old railway bridge.
p.s.—We’ve got lots of starts for you: coneflowers, daffodils,
creeping phlox. So you can plant something there and it keeps
coming back—even if it’s in strange ground.


A NEW AGE

Too bad we never bought
that chakra stuff. Our soft white caps
could be, instead, deep violet, asking
for the Spirit’s charisma, His cerebral cortex
bliss. Communion bonnets? Green—center
of the chest lit up with love’s acceptance.
And when we held hymn sings, we could slip on
baby blue, our coverings heart-shaped, the color
of caution. No wonder friends tell me I look so
good in red these days, my blonde hair short
since I wrote my first real leaving
poem. Look here: my closet’s full of survival, not
the kind that left me gasping, but straddling exactly
what to wear. How much skin to show the world. Oh,
holy armor, please, please be orange, poppies’
warm lanterns led out from the grave each May.
Let me feel, dear body. Let me, at least, desire.



DRESS UP

How easily I slip
inside her
wedding dress

bought for less than
five dollars
at the local thrift shop.

Dark sack, no pooled
silk—her love, like sin,
marked plain.

It could have been sewn
for my waist, my bust, only
its Swartzie bonnet

rimmed in lace.
A black tapestry to cover
her illuminated text

becomes my All Hallow’s
costume. Lit
candles spiral

spirits on the living.
Our ancestors like her
hidden copper treasure:

unbraided, uncoiled past
her shoulders at night.
Wine leaves the glass.

I can forget what I’m wearing,
can unname she who tied
the knots after needle,

shadow in my doorway
wanting her best dress
back.

About the Author

Becca J.R. Lachman

Becca J.R. Lachman works in the magical world of public libraries and is a writer, educator, and singer-songwriter living in Appalachian Ohio. Editor of A Ritual to Read Together: Poems in Conversation with William Stafford, she's also the author of two poetry collections: Other Acreage, an ode-elegy to her family's 1840s dairy farm, and The Apple Speaks, which explores being a wife/daughter of loved ones doing nonviolent peace work in war-torn places. Recent poems and essays appear in Connotation Press: An Online Artifact, Consequence Magazine, Image, and Sweet Lit.