Four Corners

by Michelle Bonczek Evory

Four Corners

There is a large man with a sled, splintered and wooden
beneath its red paint’s fading, selling roses
to the blind. Women passing in babushkas carry

babka, paper bags, and milk. There is the rust of pennies
mixing with the scent of lemon candles, flames
which must be shimmying like bellies

from the corner shop where the women know
their sons go to purchase last minute gifts for their tables
where they lay breads and cakes and share words that take

centuries to make, that take them back
to their mothers and fathers, back to their mothers, that take lifetimes
and countries and tongues and songs and sex

and children to make. There is the presence of bees, hovering
in a patient and stubborn cloud beside the stop sign
and a little girl in yellow hair ties wiping her runny nose on her older brother’s

even older sleeve. If you are one of the women, you cannot see her,
but hear her sniffling that, in a way, reminds you of cancer
and tissues and pneumonia that never went away.

If you are the shop owner, you smell fruited clusters
and imagine honey, both its aroma and its shade for the next holiday,
which is always approaching. If you are the man selling roses from your sled,

you do not understand what it means to be free,
yet do not mind being tethered to the idea of something
blooming among thorns and beyond

its stem. Across the street, a woman stares at a moon flower
opening in the florists’ window until her eyes feel
they will break. Her eyes do not break, but instead fill with tears

which she wipes discreetly with a blue handkerchief
she found in her mother’s attic after she died. And like the girl
in the hair ties whom she does not know and may never see again,

she is wet and leaking. She remembers she and her brother
shopping for candles for their mother’s table long ago and hearing
how a bloom of honey bees will wait for their queen.

How could they go on without her? At that moment, a blind man
walking past with a rose bumps her purse and does not
apologize. The flower shop owner’s youngest daughter

notices and thinks this rude. She squints her eyes
and mutters something about a fat man selling roses
without a permit. When her grandmother—slicing bread

in a busy corner of the kitchen, where steam from stifado
fogs windows and makes her stomach quake with desire, saliva
moistening the corners of her mouth—overhears

her granddaughter, she yells something in Polish, her mouth
mushing consonants into an angry porridge, which makes the girl
roll her eyes and walk away. In the center of the room, a dog lies

on a loomed carpet. A chewed rubber ball still at his front paws.
The girl kicks it as she passes. If you are the dog you keep on dreaming
of fields green and blown by the breezes grasshoppers make

with their wings. If you are the grandmother, you’re humming
remembering the first time you and your husband discovered
the white flecks in each other’s nails you named

love clouds that come from touching each other’s blind spots
in the dark. If you are the girl, you understand nothing of the humming
waiting at the stop sign for direction. If you are

the woman, still pondering the moon flower, you decide to buy it and place it
next to the green philodendron stretching and sunning itself
in the front window of your second story apartment, open and overlooking

the intersection, so that little girl who passes every day
with her yellow hair ties will look up and think of the moon
or of flowers.

Water~Stone Review

Michelle Bonczek Evory's picture

Michelle Bonczek Evory is the author of The Art of the Nipple (Orange Monkey Publishing, 2013) and the forthcoming Open SUNY Textbook Naming the Unnameable: An Approach to Poetry for New Generations. Her poetry is featured in the 2013 Best New Poets Anthology and has been published in over seventy journals and magazines, including Crazyhorse, cream city review, Green Mountains Review, Orion Magazine, and The Progressive. She holds a PhD from Western Michigan University and MFA from Eastern Washington University, taught most recently at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, and mentors poets at The Poet’s Billow (

Last updated April 09, 2015