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Yvonne Higgins Leach



Dead relatives resurrect on scrapbook pages

like re-cut tulips in a vase. My daughters say

we need to stop perpetually mourning our dead,

cease our tiresome trips to the cemetery, traipsing

from grave to grave with store-bought flowers,

hush the aunt whose Christmas toast is a run-on list

of unfamiliar names, and shove the tattered family tree

in a drawer. On her birthday, we send

photos of our dead sister to each other. 

The trees outside our windows

in our different cities look different on that day.

A small gesture, really, to stop the dwindling,

or what my daughters slough off as 

living in the past. Stories of vacations,

old Thanksgiving recipes, the color

of Grandma’s eyes. And when we don’t even realize we are

playing the game of Remember When, 

they put their ear pods in and check their phones.

Real and Imaginary Lovers

My first lover and I embraced

in the neighborhoods of the South Hill,

the dark, quiet streets—

Cedar, Cotta, High Drive,

the green Pontiac hugging the curbside

near some family’s house.

Through the sap-dripping maples,

streetlight flooded the front seat.

We exchanged breath on lips and tongues

and whispered words.

Combing my muscles, tracing my spine,

he said, your back is like

a geological find, 

long and hard

like a continent is to God.


My second lover was

in the square room in Scott Hall, 

the large windows with pull-one-way drapes,

the desks back-to-back,

the cold, linoleum floor,

beds separated by a shared nightstand.

I remember the beating fluorescent light

perched like a bird on the mirror,

being grateful for the dead bolt

when men’s voices haunted the hallways.

In the crisp sheets he said, stroking my thighs,

they are like riding

the rolling wheat fields of the Palouse.


The lover who comes to me in a dream

is so real, I still look for him.

In the white room with white grass

and the sound of water rushing,

he kneels before me,

cups a breast with one hand, 

a hip with the other.

Poised to consume my body

in love, he calls me

by my name.

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