The Methodist Preacher's Wife

Author | Marianne Peel

I knew a woman who saved vacuum cleaner bags,
shoved them into the basement rafters
as protection from drafts that erupt through ceiling cracks
against the tide of cold that creaked through
this old preacher’s house.

On rainy days
she would wiggle one bag out
line her carpeted floor with discarded ads from the A & P
and then unfold the accordion pleat that had kept
what had been sucked up sealed in.

She wanted to find lost things
backs of earrings
bobby pins from recitals where rigid buns were required
glittering jewels from the beagle’s collar
eggshell fragments from Ukrainian Easter masterpieces.

Once she found a thread from Nana’s old quilt
silver like the spiraled uncontrollable hair wires
that now emerged from her scalp.
She wanted to thread it through the quilt,
repair what had unraveled. 

Once she found the back of her Edward’s tie pin,
the one awarded to him on his silver anniversary.
Sermons to churn out every Saturday night.
Twenty- five years wearing a pressed white shirt and striped ties. 
He liked the narrow ones, slender and faded, like him.

Once she found an incisor, dried blood crusting the edges.
The one her daughter lost that time
Jumping on the bed during a pillow fight.
Her heels slid off the edge. She landed hard, her chin slamming
The floor, the tooth flying out of her mouth.

Once she found half of a locket, the back side of the heart.
A black and picture of Aunt Mary, hair all blurred around her face before she succumbed to colon cancer,
before she spent days in bobby pin spit curls, sitting out under the Linden tree
with a plastic mug of Vernors and Jim Bean in her hand,
counting sparrows, painting her nails summer convertible red.

You never know what treasure you will find
In dust and dirt. 


About the Author | Marianne Peel taught English at middle and high school for 32 years. She is now retired, doing Field Instructor work at Michigan State University. She recently won 1st prize for poetry in the Spring 2016 Edition of the Gadfly Literary Magazine. She also won the Pete Edmonds Poetry Prize. In addition, Marianne has been published in Muddy River Review; Silver Birch Press; Eastlit; Persephone’s Daughters; Encodings: A Feminist Literary Journal; Write to Heal; Writing for Our Lives: Our Bodies—Hurts, Hungers, Healing; Mother Voices; Metropolitan Woman Magazine; Ophelia's Mom; Jellyfish Whispers; Remembered Arts Journal. Marianne also received Fulbright-Hays Awards to Nepal and Turkey. She is a flute playing vocalist, learning to play ukulele, who is raising four daughters. She shares her life with her partner Scott, whom she met in Istanbul while studying in Turkey. Marianne also taught teachers in Guizhou Province, China for three summers, and she also toured several provinces in China with the Valpraiso Symphony, playing both flute and piccolo, in January of 2016. Recently, Marianne was invited to participate in Marge Piercy’s Juried Intensive Poetry Workshop in June 2016. This fall, she journeyed to Georgia O’Keefe’s Ghost Ranch in New Mexico, where she took part in an amazing Narrative Poetry Writing Seminar.