In my fear I’ll end up bitter as chicory and alone,
alone, wind whipping long grasses in the dunes.
With my fear I’ll end up like the husband I left
in the wake of my faithlessness, both of us wandering
a wilderness of concrete streets, no one to go home to,
no one to talk to in the swaddling dark.
Past my fear I’ll end up bitter as burdock root
like a child beaten with her father’s studded belt,
grown scarred and angry, leaving home afraid of no ghost
more than her father, living alone.
I’m not alone in my fear I’ll end up like my ex,
who fears his next wife will leave him, and she does.
I’ve grown wary of acrid greens. I brew bitter nail tea,
serve kiwi and pepitas as antidotes
to soothe my two grown daughters, thin as reeds
and not alone in their fear they’ll end up
on some windswept coast, scudding along like sea foam
left quivering on damp sand.
CAROL WESTBERG’s Terra Infirma was a finalist for the 2014 Tampa Review Prize for Poetry, and her first book, Slipstream, was a finalist for the 2011 New Hampshire Literary Award for Outstanding Book of Poetry. Her poems have appeared in journals such as Prairie Schooner, Hunger Mountain, Valparaiso Poetry Review, CALYX, and North American Review and have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net award. Carol earned a BA from Duke, an MA in Teaching from Stanford, and an MFA in Poetry at Vermont College.