by April Nance

After supper we walk by the creek.
I take pictures of a thirsty butterfly landing on Joe Pye weed.
My son looks at his phone. Thumb slides upward on glowing screen.
We are somewhere else.
Only our curly-tailed dog is present,
chewing tall grass, listening to frogs and crickets.
Wishing his leash   was longer.


I tell my son I wish I were friends with her—
the woman that lives in the white house over there.
I’d sit with her on that porch in one of those rocking chairs,
drink red wine   watch cars go by.


When the ironweed’s purple flowers are up to our knees,
she crosses the creek.
Slurred speech, summer skirt
reveals scar (memory’s tattoo)—pause
meant to explain the accident, the limp, the pain that won’t go away
why she is    the way she is.


She tells my son
“Don’t let the world make you mean. Be good to your Mama.”
He smiles and nods but doesn’t know what to do
with someone who shares so much.
He thinks her a stranger to us      but I don’t.
A Friday later she crosses again—forgetting we’ve met—that we share April birthdays,
that we are    not strangers.

April Nance is an Asheville, North Carolina native who gets up every morning at 5:30 to write before heading off to work as a ministry assistant at First Baptist Church of Asheville. Taking Great Smokies Writing classes gives her the motivation to move beyond her journal, polish her words, and share with fellow writers.

About Crossing—This poem began as a journal entry about meeting a neighbor and grew into a poem about paying attention to the stories and voices all around us.