“in which i return to nebraska”


a new poem by ashley brittingham

dark arms reaching, unfurling.

their gnarly hands arthritic.

they lend themselves ever upwards

toward the great orb of light.

upon their arms are layers,

rough stories from birth and time.

hail or snow.

wind or human.

stoic, they stand through all.

in their hands

bright yellows blind

cluster and float

like billowing florescent umbrellas.

they wave hello

aware of their time.

in that moment

my feet lead me through

their aureole, their chuppah.

the staccato–




echoing through damp cold

changing yellow to brown beneath my soles.

i awake.

the coolness disappearing,

and the glow of the nebraska fall

dims into the land of nod.



Shoulders curled forward.

Elbows bent like the arm of a chair.

Hands sinking repeatedly

into the warm water below.

Suds drape like glistening gloves

highlighting individual fingertips.

Staring out the window

dreaming in another time.

The mundane routine

drifting from consciousness.

I wonder what other women

have stood here and thought

while handing plate over plate

onto the rack to my left.

Gazing out

letting their eyes rest over

the countryside

allowing themselves to ponder

a different day–a different story.

The sink empties.

The water slowly lowers

itself down the pipe

as the silky bubbles

start to file down my hands to join

the final parade.

My mind snaps back.

Reality fades in as I turn from the kitchen sink

and into a afternoon.



like a blank canvas.

the calm hurries my senses.

making me stare

as my eyes adjust to the darkening.

dim echoes of hurled flashes

roll over obstacles–

demanding to be heard.

the atmosphere beckons in purple hues

jaggedly smeared on the high ceiling

that droops like a quilt billowing with down.

coolness envelopes me

as it pours in rivulets across

my arms and cheeks.

i stand with nothing

as something great emerges.

my hair fans away from my shoulders

as my ears discern the beginning

Splat Splat Splishes

of a storm coming nearer.



the silence.


like a child in utero

the beat of a heart

pounding in my ear

holding it in waves

of sublime completeness.

the water releases me.

i sit up.

the sounds of normalcy returning–

basketballs thud thud thudding

against tired wet concrete

from days of rain.

voices from the living room drifting in

from under the door.

the lemon candle flickers against

the swirls of mist rising from limbs–

the heat from the water begins to

close the reflection on the mirror.

i sit.



as the water continues to hold me

in the bath my mother drew.