Diane Lockward: "Sinkholes"



One morning someone’s husband leaves
for work and never returns. Or someone’s

cousin takes a trip to Mexico and crosses
the border there’s no crossing back over.

Or maybe your daughter heads to school
but never arrives. Alice down the rabbit hole,

forever in freefall. Sometimes they disappear
like that, one by one,

sometimes by the hundreds, the thousands.
Strangers. People we’ve loved. Poof!—

like rabbits stuffed back in the hat.
Today the earth opened up and sucked in

a man’s bedroom—the man asleep on his
lumpy mattress, his sad erotic dreams,

down into a mystery of limestone and sand.
Gone the vertical cracks in the tiles, the slight

shifting of walls, the popping creaks at night.
Only a hole where his room used to be, as if

the earth, like a Titan, had eaten her child.
The neighbors throw flowers into the crater—

lilies, orchids, red hibiscus. They build a shrine.
Someone adds a bench, a place for the mother

to sit and grieve. A place to pray.
Dear Lord, give me something to bury. A piece

of his shirt, a fragment of bone, a strand of his hair.


Diane Lockward is the author of three poetry books, most recently Temptation by Water. Her previous books are What Feeds Us, which received the 2006 Quentin R. Howard Poetry Prize, and Eve's Red Dress. She is also the author of The Crafty Poet: A Portable Workshop (Wind Publications, 2013). Her poems have been published in such journals as Harvard Review, Spoon River Poetry Review, and Prairie Schooner. Her work has also been featured on Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, and The Writer’s Almanac.