‘HOW THEY CONQUER’ by Anne Leigh Parrish

They come to you with windows that look into the yard
Where the grass grows wild
Because no one mows it
You try
Until those rusty blades resist

They come to you with food—lamb, or beef, or something full of blood
Your mother prepares with rosemary and thyme, garlic and
Olive oil
So tasty you want more and are told you have had

They come to you with laughter while your aunt pours herself a martini
To kill the pain of being in her own skin
She’d sit there forever watching the shadows
Grow long
But sadly nature calls

They slide in a new floorplan that moves the bathroom from
The cellar she opens by mistake,
Sucks her down into darkness where the
Stone floor shocks her body
Rattles her breath
Almost snuffs her out

They rise in crisis—sirens, lights, a scream
Your mother can’t manage the telephone
So you make the call
The numbers fade and the dial won’t turn
It always happens like this

Even as they roll her out she heals and loves her gin
Your mother’s apron is stained again with
Oil and herbs
This is how they conquer time
By coming only in dreams

Anne Leigh Parrish has three upcoming titles, all from Unsolicited Press: what nell dreams, a novella & stories coming November 2020; a winter night, a novel, due in March 2021; and her debut poetry collection, the moon won’t be dared, in the fall of 2022.

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