Two Poems

My Daughter Says Basket

My daughter says basket, not pandemic
but we both know where this is going. 
We’ve seen the death mask before, 

cavernous O the mouth makes going, 
finally knowing how all the woven light 
opens the cave that even my daughter 

will one day enter unmasked. 
Make me a basket, she says, what 
to read when I can only mouth 

my days unspoken, unheard. What
scent for the room—sandalwood, mint—
what song to brighten the passage, 

what message for corridor’s echo, 
the loom and weft time weaves 
of mother and daughter. This is

what she needs for the basket, 
for the day looming that neither 
wants to speak of or hear.  

Night Guard

Who knew my dreams needed reining in, 
galloping symbol and precipice, until

after decades of TMJ, my jaw began to crumble,
like so many these pandemic days 

who clench and grind, crack molars and fillings. 
I click the new night guard in place to stay 

the bone loss, though at 3 am., I spit this
foreign bit on the extra pillow, ride on

unhaltered. I dream no fear at the departure 
gate: shoulder to shoulder as in my old life, 

breathing the same air, off to the Midi-Pyrénées 
near Toulouse, along the ancient pilgrimage—

but there’s a summer snow, at least a foot, 
and I didn’t pack boots. My parents would 

send them, but they’re off being new incarnations,
and I’ll never again hear their voices—
 
DiMaggio’s fly ball at Sulphur Dell, nutmeg 
not clove in the cobbler—except the wishing 

voice in my head, mouth locked in stasis. I’ll never 
know whether night guards or hogties me, 

lathered to the brink of prayer, staying neither hope 
nor haint, whether the watches hover until 

I awaken, or if, in the wee hours and more gnashing 
of teeth, I can’t help myself and spit it out. 



Linda Parsons

Linda Parsons is a poet, playwright, and editor, as well as the poetry editor for Madville Publishing and reviews editor for Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel. She coordinates WordStream, WDVX-FM’s weekly reading/performance series, with Stellasue Lee, and is copy editor for Chapter 16, the literary website of Humanities Tennessee. Parsons is published in such journals as The Georgia Review, Iowa Review, Prairie Schooner, Southern Poetry Review, The Chattahoochee Review, Baltimore Review, and Shenandoah. Her fifth poetry collection is Candescent (Iris Press, 2019).