Two Poems by Ellen Stone

Dear blow up pool
…………………………………………………. — after Matthew Olzmann

You are what I am looking for under the lank trees of the cul de sac. Softening the hard packed ground. My American dream for under $9.99. I want to unwrap you even now, so rainbow, so bathtub in the yard. Your tiny plastic nozzle –pushing my breath out from deep center, toes clenching sod. Those thick plastic walls; separate & equal rings.

The dog’s spins & dashes have killed the yard. The girls are grown & gone. Even Kmart is closed for good. These days have such sharp edges– crumbled brick, old shale. Even the shrinking stepping stones. I dream about your vinyl floor, turquoise or built in blue. The pillowed contour of your tubular sides.

Can I say you were true – all those years? Helping me gather the children. Follow through on my promises. What did I know about motherhood? Brightness, liquid, consistency: everything you had to offer. Filling all that was empty in us — you & the garden hose.

Before she went crazy, my mother taught us. Summer comes: Buy a blow up pool. Give it all the well possesses. Go big. Heat the water in a giant pot & carry it outside. Make yourself wet, warm, clean & happy. Under the ebullient sun.


Mustard pot

As she packed the boxes, her mind
whirred like a small fan. Eyes flattened.
Take this, Mother said. I won’t be needing
it where I’m going now.

Hobnail milk glass mustard pot.
Small as a snowball.
Porcupined. Polka dots sticking out
like knobs or bits of dull armor.

The Baptist minister’s wife must have wrapped
so carefully, layers of tissue paper
frail as fly wings. After the elopement,
how something so delicate
would settle in my mother’s large hands.

What to serve in its inner hollow
no bigger than a golf ball –
spun hollandaise from the glass blender.
Asparagus covered in yellow dribbles.
Father closing his eye, hum humming.

According to eBay, it is rare to find the spreader intact,
clear glass implement shaped like a tiny oar
as if the little pot could float & navigate in water.

Such bumpy, milky whimsy – marriage
like this mustard pot. Cheeky, solid,
proper white ‘til chipped or broken, then
who will save it? How hard to keep
the inside filled when the shell is cracked.

Ellen Stone
Ellen Stone

Ellen Stone teaches at Community High School in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Her poems have appeared recently in Passages North, Rust + Moth, and Lunch Ticket, and are forthcoming in The Chiron Review, and The Collagist. Michigan Writers Cooperative Press published Ellen’s poetry chapbook, The Solid Living World.

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