Floodgate Road closed. You can
drive over to South Otter Branch.
But the road is closed to Otter Brook.
Garden State Scooters is located
there now. Rent or buy. Birds call
through the smoke-filled light.
Small trees, new houses, highways
crowd in. Work used to begin
at dawn with singing and cursing.
It wasn’t better—jobs broke
workers’ bodies. But brown thrashers
flew back and forth to their nest.
A neighbor boy secretly kissed a girl.
Clouds were egoless. So were
swathes of blond grass. Violets
in rain. Moon and its sister stars.
The Book of Gates leads down
through death to the underworld,
arms us with passwords and codes
for the perilous journey. At Otter
Brook, women still walk in gardens,
their arms full of crepe myrtle.
The floodgates will open. I’m
my mother now, waiting to pray.
Barbara Daniels‘s Rose Fever was published by WordTech Press and her chapbooks Moon Kitchen, Black Sails and Quinn & Marie by Casa de Cinco Hermanas Press. She received three Individual Artist Fellowships from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and earned an MFA in poetry at Vermont College.