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Volume 26, Number 4 — April 2019

POETRY by Delilah O'Haynes

Delilah O'Haynes
Delilah O'Haynes

By Delilah O'Haynes | March 25, 2008


Raging blind out into white,

I shove the spoon-like shovel

down the drive, making drifts

that could swallow me.

Angry skies make more,

covering my clean walkway.

I sweep steps till my back breaks,

storm at each flake that falls,

each reminder. Nothing I do,

not my stroking your hair,

my soothing words, my prayers,

can keep back this blizzard.

In dead of night, you melt

from me like a silent snow

angel, and I am left

groping in the light.

# # #


"Poems, to me, are markers along my journey," Delilah O'Haynes explains. "If others connect with my poems so that their souls are also enriched, then I am doubly blessed."

A coal miner's daughter from Clintwood, Va., O'Haynes is Associate Professor at Concord University in Athens, WV, where she teaches Creative Writing. Her first book, The Character of Mountains, a collection of poetry and photography released in 2006, was nominated for the Appalachian Book of the Year award. Her second book, Walk Free from Fear of Cancer, nonfiction, will be available this spring. Her third and fourth books — Rise, Woman. Rise, a collection of poetry therapy for women, and Home Town Folks, a humorous Appalachian novel — are in the formatting stage. All her books are available from on-line book companies, such as

O'Haynes belongs to the West Virginia Writers Association, Appalachian Writers Association, Center for Poets and Writers, Appalachian Authors Guild, and Inkslingers.

# # #

Between Worlds
by Delilah F. O'Haynes

There is no death,
only a change of worlds
. . . Chief Seattle

"Please help me die,"
he begs visitors day after day.

We spoon feed him lunch,
give him his pills,
change his diaper.

He pleads,
"Do not leave me."
I sit with him at night.

"Who is that man in the house?"
he asks. I tell him there's just
the two of us. Doc says
the medicine makes him hallucinate.

He calls me to his bedside:
"I must pass through," he says.
"My soul is in a hard place.
Please, let me go.
Let me become."

I take his hand, stroke
his brow, just as a cold
breeze stirs the curtains,
chills my bones.

Next morning, after
a rescue team
transfers his cold body
to a stretcher,
we find his
pills where he spat them,
under his pillow.

# # #

by Delilah F. O'Haynes

Wake up, Woman.

You've sold your soul
to others for nothing-
others who've called you stupid,
ruled over you with iron fists,
beat you down to a scream.

Get up, Woman.
Shake off the dirt
and buy back your soul.
You won't need money.
Put on your best dress.
Put on your strength.
Put on your faith.

Break out, Woman.

Cast off fear and shame
and stretch yourself in every direction.
No more oppression; no more terror!
Even the wagging tongues
will fall silent behind you.


*Isaiah 52-54.

# # #

Kitchen Fever
by Delilah F. O'Haynes

Our shadows dance
on the kitchen wall,
fuse in candlelight.

I fit into
the contour
of your shoulder.

You move me
to soft saxophone,
your breath
brushing my neck,
rushing waves of
warm to my toes.

Blood-hot blazes
from the fireplace
flicker around
our silhouette-
on the ceiling.

In slow, smooth motion,
our shadows melt
into one perfect flame.

# # #

by Delilah F. O'Haynes

looms ahead in the distant afternoon
like great smoke stacks against stark sky,
heat rising in gray, wavy mushrooms,
melting horizon.

it hurts to let go of the door knob, to face
that gray, naked space, to put one foot
forward into nothingness, into everything.

the trick is in the way of the walk,
how you move down the driveway
and step up onto the sidewalk,
your head held high,
wearing that new red hat,
as if a band marched
behind you down the street.

# # #

Yard Sale
by Delilah F. O'Haynes

A pair of embroidered pillow cases,
ivory stitched on ivory,
a wedding gift,
left in their protective cover,
tucked into a cedar chest,
awaiting a fair-weather day.

Memory of mother's
wedding pillow cases,
embroidered with dancing ballerinas
dressed in purple and pink threads,
on sturdy cotton that endured
thirty years of coal dust, Vitalis,
rollers of the wringer washer.

One pair embroidered
pillow cases,
antique, slightly yellowed,
never used,

# # #

by Delilah F. O'Haynes

"What should I do for my fiftieth birthday?"
Nina asks, sipping her iced tea,
twirling her platinum-blonde hair.
"I'm thinking of getting a face lift."

Glancing up from my salad,
I do not see Nina's face, but Rachael's,
her legs drawn up to her,
her slender feet bare, her toffee curls
cascading across the back of a brown sofa.
"Waiting for test results is hardest,"
she says, "but David is so supportive.
He's okay with never having children,
as long as I survive the cancer. My first
husband told me no one else would want me;
I didn't think I deserved David's love."

Nina motions to our waiter.
"Maybe what I need is a new wardrobe," she says.
"What do you think of the new spring fashions?"

I take a bite of salad,
remembering Laura, who is my age
and taking chemotherapy the second time.
One doctor told her, "You have stage-four cancer.
That's means you're going to die. Face it."
I tell her stories of others who have made it,
encourage her to eat. "I don't want food," she says.
"I want to see my granddaughter grow up."

The waiter comes to refill our tea.
"Are you listening to me?" Nina asks.
I nod.
"Do you think an affair would bring
passion back to my marriage?"

Nina's gleaming dental work reminds me of Daniel,
a young man who glows when he smiles,
who's always smiling, even when his white count is low.
Daniel talks about his up-coming graduation,
his trip to Italy, not his bone-marrow transplant.
He is valedictorian this year.
I think of his boyish blonde curls and catch a glimpse
of my own brand-new hair in a mirror above our booth.
I, too, am facing that fiftieth birthday,
a birthday I didn't think I'd see.

I smile in spite of myself.

"Does that smile mean 'yes'?" Nina asks.

I lay my tip on the table.
"It means 'thanks'.

# # #


Meet the poets featured in the April issue of A! MAGAZINE FOR THE ARTS and read their poetry by following the links below:

Neva Bryan
Rees Shearer
Gretchen McCroskey
Benjamin Dugger
Warren Meredith Harris
David Winship
Henry McCarthy
Lena Cantrell McNicholas
Samuel Miller, M.D.
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