Rosemary Royston

Mirror Image


Even the Baptist minister’s wife is dressed
like me -- short shorts, bikini top, skin brown

although it’s only early spring. Both of us know
when to plant bulbs, how to till from scratch,

when to move the seedlings into the soft brown.
This morning I braided my shower-wet hair,

hers is still coiffed from church, but both of us
are in our gardens with a hoe and a rake.

We mirror one another with our motions, and the yard
between us echoes with the clink of metal on stone.

We have different ways of viewing the world, yet
as we rake the weeds and debris to the edges

we each stop to rest, lean against the padded handle,
look across the way, and lift a hand in hello.


The Way It Is


You stand in line at CVS in your shoes
which pinch your feet after eight hours
and everyone else’s prescription is there
but yours.  Then you spend $68.47
for groceries, dodging puppy shit
baking in the gravel drive
as you lug in milk, cereal, and whatnot.

Above, the sky is grayish-blue.
The sky is gray.
The sky is blue.

You fill a Mason jar with a zinnia,
purple wildflowers whose name
you do not know, and a fern
picked from down by the pond
beside the carpet of green moss
where, whenever you pass,
you sit, remove your shoes,
and reverently rub the soles
of your feet.


Tongue Tied


Each Tuesday at 5:45 pm I drag myself
in suit and heels to the storefront
of the strip mall marked Yama Bushi
with my 9 and 7 year-old in tow.

The New Yorker winks at me over the top
of my leather bag and in the distance I hear
yells of Ki-Ah! as time makes a smooth ascent
into the land of satisfaction

until Sensei Ron leans into my space, the V
of his gi an open dressing-room door.
Curly black hairs wave giddily
in the vicinity of his pale pink areola

and even though he speaks to me clearly
and with respect, I’m tongue-tied
next to this half-naked stranger, unsure
how to answer the question I’ve not heard

seeing only his chest and a few feet away
his soft wife with the long wavy hair
who chases their round baby
along the edges of the interlocking mats.

        return to poetry

Rosemary Royston’s chapbook Splitting the Soil will be published in late 2011/early 2012 by Redneck Press. She holds an MFA in Writing from Spalding University and is a lecturer at Young Harris College. Rosemary’s poetry has been published in journals such as The Comstock Review, Main Street Rag, Coal Hill Review, FutureCycle, and Alehouse. Her essays on writing poetry are included in Women and Poetry: Tips on Writing, Teaching and Publishing by Successful Women Poets. She was the recipient of the 2010 Literal Latte Food Verse Award. She currently serves as the Program Coordinator for the North Carolina Writers Network-West. To read more of her work, go to