First Trip to Cleveland

We start out as if on a lark, a romantic getaway
north to lake country, whipping by Amish
fields of straw sheaves, lined up like skirted
scarecrows, then that city skyline,
so jagged and uneven, a mouth with
missing teeth. Our bed and breakfast,
a stone mansion from grander days,
rock ‘n roll guitar sculpture marking the entrance.

Hurrying, we walk to the museum before closing,
meet Bonnard’s wife Marthe, feel the dappling
sun of Renoir, and search in vain for prints,
watercolors, all stowed in dark archives,
available by appointment. At dinner
we share everything, conversation, laughter,
an artichoke trimmed and dressed
in lemon, chicken breasts creamed
with goat cheese. Back at the inn, you study
your books while the woman next door coughs
erratically. We move into a new room,
where we rest under a blinking
smoke alarm, awakened in the early
morning by the repeated clearing
of a throat.

At the clinic, you lug your heavy bag
of hope to all three doctors, search for
answers, as I record conversations, no cracks
in the door to alternative treatments, only
surgery or radiation, the implanting
of seeds on a seek and destroy mission,
titanium husks you would always
carry deep inside, like a portable
landfill in a scarred landscape. Afterwards,
I drive us south, now and then stroking
the softness of your grey corduroys, silence
our companion the whole way home.

Best in Show
Antioch Writers’ Workshop Poetry Contest

Anne Randolph’s poems have been published in the following journals: Plainsongs, The Storyteller, Mad Poet’s Review, The Chaffin Journal and Willow Review. She has studied poetry at Wittenberg University, and has participated in the Antioch Writer’s Workshop.