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Ann Spiers

Vashon Island, WA

Ann Spiers’ inspiration includes both sides of the Cascades. Her great grandmother settled on the Little Spokane River; her grandfather whaled out of Westport; her grandmother taught  in one-room schoolhouses; her mother fled from Montesano to Seattle in WWII to avoid marrying a stump rancher; her father spent the war as a radioman off the Aleutians. Ann fled Seattle’s Capitol Hill to love a geologist and hike the Cascade volcanoes, surviving Mt St. Helens’ eruption and memorizing Mt. Rainier; raised two boys down Vashon Island’s Bunker Trail in a beach cabin; and honored as Vashon’s inaugural Poet Laureate.

Summer Lady
Ann Spiers

 i
There she is
never saw her before
she must be summer people
her in grey clothes
skirt and shirt not tucked in
and clogs, odd choice
for uneven ground
but she’s up and socks dry
she smells of turpentine
and almond-scented lotion

he knows what she wants
he points to back there
where after we strip the flesh
he throws fish heads, deer guts
tough chicken bits
old clams gaping with stink.

ii
Before us before anyone
the goat lady squatted here
alone at the beach edge
no man and no women
no one to visit
just goats crowded
atop a stump

when they died
she pulled them whole
into the dump back there
too old to dig a hole
for her nanny goats
no help around

rumor has it
she’s back there too
covered up
by all the hazel

branches arching
heavy with nuts
rough skins
hard shell

I don’t go back there.

iii
The clogged lady has a shovel
walking by me nary a nod
as if she gets free range
of our private place of killed things
as if she’ll find what she needs there

he says She’s an artist
takes stuff
shells driftwood gewgaws
hearts carved in mushrooms
a little seagull sitting on a spike
stuck into the wood
she glues them into a box
folks open the lid
look in
all this in a box

Jack off in a box I say

That’s not funny he says.

        iv

I watch him watch the artist lady

from nowhere return

her mouth fresh with red lipstick

she steps aside to get past me

she shows him her finds

our losses

skull, wishbone, joints, jawbones

skins tanned with cedar seep

who was he to her
a salty man in generous pants
where the zipper ends at his belt
his fly shut with a safety pin
he loves that belt
gotten some place in Idaho
someplace close
to where he was a kid.