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The Way Things Are Supposed to Be, a poem by Daye Phillippo





Come, walk with me, friend, out to the mailbox

   the way we used to walk together when I lived

across the road. Older sister-friend who graduated 

   from high school, year I was born, and who still lives 

there, widowed and unable to walk much of anywhere, 

   anymore, but who can still go with me on the phone. 

I walk and listen while you tell me about your latest

   doctor's visit, and that you saw the red fox again, skimming 

across your backyard, and that your first husband is  

   back in your life, a blessing who brings you groceries, 

and rubs your aching back. And I tell you what I see—

   the deer tracks cut deep in the stone-sand 

shoveled to patch the potholes in the gravel drive. 

   To the south, how the brown field is combed in ridges

empty of corn, and how my July hens are laying now,

   their first small eggs, the yolks, so yellow and round 

they could be suns, and you say, "Yes, honey, that's how

   they're supposed to be." Then you tell me the way 

other things used to be, should be still, and I want to listen 

   as long as you have stories, breath in your lungs, dear one. 

Daye Phillippo is a lifelong Hoosier, a poet of place, living first in Tippecanoe County and now in Fountain County. My debut collection of poems, Thunderhead, was published by Slant Books in 2020.