Small Spring on the Property, by Martina Reisz Newberry
My friend, Hazel, sat on a yellow plastic chair
outside her trailer in Bentonia, Mississippi
on an acre of land owned by a great-uncle
who let her fix up the old trailer and live in it
so she could live protected, hidden from her ex
who threatened to kill her if he ever found her
for taking their big screen t.v. with her
when she left him for the last time,
while he showered.
She bought her groceries at Toby’s Foods
and occasionally sipped a bitter coffee
at the B & B Cafe out on Anding Oil City Rd.
Mostly, though, she sat in the yellow chair
with her chigger-bit ankles
resting on a cooler she found in the trailer
when first she moved there. She had a tall boyfriend
who worked at Foster’s Machine & Repair.
They went for long drives on the weekends,
took Hwy 49 out
to a flea market
where Hazel found a desk lamp she liked.
It had peace signs painted on it and the name
NORMA was etched into its black surface.
Their drives often ended in dinner at a crawfish place
then hot, tongueful kisses
at the trailer door.
Mostly though, she smoked Camel Lights in
the yellow chair and wrote poems about the music
from the yearly blues festival—told how it crept
into the pockets of her hoodie—and other poems, too,
about the sun heating up the nursery
in July at the Bronx Bethany Church
where she and Leo were married.
Sometimes, she walked to the small spring there
on the property, compared its colors—February to May,
July to November, and so on…Last year, her great-uncle
stopped by to see her and found her dead in the yellow chair.
Her notebook was on her lap,
the pencil in the dirt next to her,
her Camel Lights in her rolled up sleeve.
When he took her belongings out of the trailer before he had it
demolished and dragged off, he wondered at the brand-new,
unopened carton of Tinker Toys wrapped in crackly green
cellophane with a big red ribbon. He wondered at the
smeared Xmas tag that said,
“MaMar loves you and so does Santa”
and the empty picture frame next to it—
the only things there were on the shelf above her cot.