Three Poems by Jennifer McKeen Rodrigues

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End of Summer

As she steps off the bus, I notice dried tracks
on her cheeks.

The sun was out today, waving
through a cool autumn breeze
with nowhere hurried to go.

I wait at the stop, sitting in the dual ambiance
absorbing the silence.

The usual blur of little bodies rushing 
down the stairs lead my eyes to her,
hugging her friend.

Their gestures slow and lingering for young girls.
She watches the ground as she comes to me.

I see the sun bounce a shine from her dark hair.
A shadow approaches, leaving me in the dark.
The wind moves a cloud over us as we walk up the hill,

the first time in a year that she 
holds my hand.

Estate Sale: 6562 Alderwood

You called me to your home
but did not want me to write you,

your dead wife did, so she led me
to the basement,

to the oval canvas and clay boards
for me to add my art in ways

she wanted to add hers.
Showed me her supplies

and empty, waiting frames.
2008 took her in a car crash,

she was in Pennsylvania.
Why were you in Viriginia?

Eight years later you sold the family home,
moved into a posh retirement community

and took her with you-
clothing from family Thanksgivings,

pleated dresses with shoulder pads,
fur coats and Eddie Bower sweaters.

You couldn’t let her go.

Her paintings on the mantle,
sketches in the office,

the penciled rose that’s now 
in my bedroom.

Her name and addresses written everywhere,
she left me a trail to explore.

You left me not a crumb.


Estate Sale: 3512 Launcelot

1966 held suburban dreams,
the garage held a Saab.
Your lifeless energy lingers everywhere

except the master bedroom, 
no longer able to return.

I take a journey down the spiral
staircase to a room full of 
windowed delight.
You, jubilant, in your Swedish rocking chair,
I could feel it vibrating through the arms,
music piped through headphones as you
passed time ignoring your family.
Your daughters had their own rooms,
wasn’t that good enough?

Filled your widowed home 
with sitting rooms-
one light and formal
the other dreary wood paneling
suitable for your darkest years-
            hollow Chinese vases
            empty picture frames.
And all your adulthood 
laying rugs from Iran 
room to room
under sunwashed windows
to fade.

A single white iron bed for the grandchild 
to sleep on, the place that held
your death rattles.
Woman in white onesie with mouse ears, hand on chin.

Jennifer McKeen Rodrigues currently lives on the sacred Powhatan land of Fairfax, VA. She is a certified yoga therapist & trauma informed yoga teacher, is a queer military spouse, mom, & neurodivergent superhuman. She has been featured in many literary journals and anthologies, and has been nominated for Best of the Net for photography. Find her on Instagram @gmoneyfunklove.

Featured Image: “Hand Holding – Petroglyphs at Rock Art Ranch” by Alan Levine under under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

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