August 5, 1936 | Three Poems

by Em Howard

August 5, 1936

She’s waiting for you
in her black one-piece swimsuit
with the smart buckle at the waist
Her hair pulled to the side with a barrette
Smooth fair skin freckling in the sun
It was scandalous to have bare feet in public,
but she still doesn’t care
She calls your name and laughs

I’m surprised she still recognizes you
You, with your fading hair and wrinkled face
like a fine linen cloth, wadded up
and left too long in the sun
You fill your days with visits and memories
and remembering how to walk, unaided

But she has never been a patient woman
She will cup her hands around her mouth
and call your name in her singsong way
She will whisper in your ear as you sleep
“Remember when we…”
Beckoning you, until you are standing
alongside her, transformed
laughing at the camera
in your light blue shorts
and movie star sunglasses.


Maternal Wisdom

Your mother
is very disappointed.
She wishes you would
get your hair out of your eyes put on some lipstick stop slouching stop smoking carry a tissue in your purse in case you sneeze because what are you going to do, use your sleeve to wipe your damn nose?
But you like to view
the world camouflaged, separated
by a curtain of hair.
Pale lips leave no trace
except for the plume of smoke
that curls out from between them

You take a cigarette break just outside the door,
shoulders curled in against the cold.
You shiver and sniff,
and wish you had a tissue.


Rational Thinking

She danced
past the window
and down the street
Sunshine on her feet
in the form of
a pair of yellow
ballet flats
And in an instant
my drizzly day

I looked at you
with expectation
Of eyes that crinkle
at the corners
Eyes that say
Yes! I saw
those crazy shoes,
weren’t they delightful?
But you didn’t notice

Instead you glanced
outside, ignoring
the raindrops as
they trickled their
delicate choreography
down the windowpane
You mumbled something
about fixing the gutters
on the back of the garage

You went back to
reading the news, as
I watched the rising steam
from our coffee cups
do a silent pirouette
together, on the table
between us.

About Em Howard

Em Howard is, among other things, a late-bloomer who came to the craft of writing in her forties. Before she added the title of “writer” to her list of endeavors, she has been a daughter, a best-friend, a wife, a mother, and a non-traditional student at Michigan State University where she studied English and creative writing. Em has had her poetry published in the Washington Square Review, and writes a personal blog at When she is not planted in front of her computer, you can usually find her at a coffee house, pondering life and the nutritional value of morning glory muffins.

Em Howard

Em Howard is online at