Linda Neal


Measuring Love

Everything I love fits
me and what I fear:
famines and fires,
cities burning
rumors, feasts before dark.
Flags and floods and
Holy Thursday.

What I want,
no abacus can calculate,
no clerk in the city
can bring to me.
Through the grating
in my bedroom wall
I smell the lime tree dying,
plates of cake rotting in the heat,
the death of garlic.
The burglars of the sun
have stolen ripe peaches
from my father’s tree.
The white promise of the moon remains,
immutable, translucent overhead.

Each bent and damaged detail
of family matters. The list begins
with Grandma whistling
and a worn yardstick standing
in the corner of her sewing room,
the faded numbers calling my name;
she’s measuring the hem
on my first pencil skirt,
green as jade.

At the end of a thin path
over dunes,
through tumbleweeds
where the secret breath
of horses lives,
past the sound
of windblown sand
I stretch my arms
and call.

Linda Neal is a two-time Pushcart nominee, psychotherapist, writing teacher and thirty-year kidney transplant patient. She holds an MFA from Pacific U. Her poems have appeared in Calyx, Chiron Review, Gyroscope Review, Prairie Schooner, Tampa Review and elsewhere. She lives and teaches poetry in Redondo Beach, CA. She has published two collections, Dodge & Burn (Bambaz Press, 2014) and Not About Dinosaurs (Bambaz Press, 2020).