Walnut with turned legs
That unfold in a triptych
For dining or card play.

Carried in an ox-cart from Minnesota
To a Dakota homestead.
Grasshoppers destroyed the crop

So they came back. Your mother,
The youngest child who cared for the old ones
Inherited it with much else of little value.

She gave it to us for our first home.
I banged out poems on an old Royal
Balanced on its rickety frame.

Years later, our eldest daughter
Set it up in a brownstone by the
Parlor stove where she froze all winter.

Hauled to California. A little house in the
Foothills. What happened next?  I guess
It must have been left in some cross-country

Diaspora. Salvaged or chopped for firewood
Or still standing tremulously in a student rental
Overlooking an avenue of shops and bars

Where someone waking after midnight
Finds paper and pen and sits down
To scrawl a poem in longhand.

Image credit:Jan Kahánek

Joan Colby published widely in journals such as Poetry, Atlanta Review, South Dakota Review, Gargoyle, Pinyon, Little Patuxent Review, Spillway, Midwestern Gothic, and others. Awards included two Illinois Arts Council Literary Awards and an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship in Literature. She published 21 books, including  Selected Poems, from FutureCycle Press, which received the 2013 FutureCycle Prize, and Ribcage, from Glass Lyre Press, which was awarded the 2015 Kithara Book Prize. Three of her poems were featured on Verse Daily and another was among the winners of the 2016 Atlanta Review International Poetry Contest. Her latest books were Carnival, from  FutureCycle Press, The Seven Heavenly Virtues, from Kelsay Books, and Her Heartsongs, from Presa Press.  Colby was a senior editor of FutureCycle Press and an associate editor of Good Works Review.

Joan Colby died on August 18, 2020.