Four Conditioners Left at Home

Lori laughed like jingle bells.
She returned from Paul’s well with water.
Two buckets for balance.

This cabin in the woods
was both horrible and beautiful. Alive.
Alive with too many things that scared her.

At night when the sky exposed
a hundred times more stars than the city lights allowed
they lay on the picnic table looking up.

Two buckets of water is not enough
to wash her hair or for a bath.
A shower contraption is a kind description.

Her mistake was believing out here
the birds would be so unafraid of people
that they would take turns landing on her hand.

Once Lori got over the idea that dirt made one dirty
the chores got done without complaint
as if she was changing skins.

She poured fire heated water into the tank
and combined it with cold water.
Gravity delivered the temperate mix to the shower head.

She realized her facial skin felt like her own
and not like a canvas for makeup.
Her eyes required no color but her brown irises.

One thing she luxuriated in
was Paul brushing her hair each night—
one hundred strokes.

Water from the shower head touched her face and hair.
She was quick with the shampoo
to lather and rinse before the tank emptied.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney


A red-tailed hawk stood on a fence post
that separated a rural highway
from a cornfield.

Her head turned back and forth
as a hundred bicyclists
with numbers on their backs

blurred past not seeing
the statuesque bird
or the mice that searched for food

around the corn stalks.
One mouse dared to rush
to the sentinel post and back.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney