“When Looking Out the Back Window,” “After the Quarrel” and “In the Pause”

by Jeanne Allison

After the Quarrel

When looking out the back window

at night I can’t see the owl I hear

but a faint outline

of the sandbox on the porch

a playground for unwanted crickets

who nestle to the bottom

waiting to surprise me one summer day

I thought the neighborhood owl had left us

run out by wild turkeys and boredom

but tonight in this rare quiet moment

I hear him in the distance

the bellow of his hoot rising

above the trees

reminding

and now the house is almost quiet

as the calls of the crickets

seep in through open windows

and that owl says hello or something

beyond the words within my reach

and I am sure he speaks to me directly

in rising moonlight still

and I would call to him if I could

in some primal way to say

I am here

too

After the Quarrel

The zinc-filled sky broke into a slow

rung of thunder, shaking the quarrel from our limbs

as our heavy words sunk low within us,

like that long rumbling, sneaking through spring,

making even the earth itself flinch.

I left my diary alone that day,

tossing my thoughts into the thunder

that threatened our good time

when our angry words

slipped into the soft space between us.

On another day, I know, one with clear skies and warmth,

however fleeting, we will make our way

through the neighborhood, finding the bamboo

someone laid on the roadside. You will pick up

one lone pole and you’ll try hard to balance it

while riding your bike, and our words,

rung in silent messages between us,

will cleanse our heaviness as we wait for each other.

I’ll look back at you, with your hands

off the handlebars, balancing that bamboo stalk

and you’ll flinch when you notice me watching,

I, the critic of your mind. Sometimes, I yearn to disappear

so I can watch you longer

unnoticed, unflinching

and perhaps, one day,

we will understand.

In the Pause

a sunset walk will

stop our conversation


and with dismissive eyes

you'll look away


I'll dance a prayer

and on another day


I'll try again

when I can't share of what


I mean

concerning you

I'll only see


a quiet porch

a pause made clear

then strains


to hear my mother's voice

through dirty piles


of plates and knives

as late day sun

through panes


shines strong and casts

a tainted purple light


on all our struggles

crumbling into night

About the Author

Jeanne Allison

Jeanne Allison lives in St. Louis, Missouri, with her husband and daughter. She loves to read and write poetry in stolen and in-between moments. Her work has appeared in the Liminal Women Anthology (forthcoming), Skylight47 (an Irish literary journal), Light: A Journal of Photography & Poetry, Under the Basho, and the Haiku Path in the Holmes County Open Air Art Museum.