My Middle Name Is Joan

I loved my Aunt Joan’s house
after school. That’s where we 
checked in before heading home
a block away to listen to music and
work on homework ‘til Mom came home.

Some lucky days I hung out with
Joan, a child of Wyoming, 
wife of a Nebraska farmer now 
tending a backyard garden in the suburbs.

I balanced on a kitchen stool, thumbing 
through True Crime and watching
Joan play solitaire and smoke 
her way through a box of Kents.

She played at rapid speed
slapping down 52 cards in sequence
leading to four neat piles, 
hearts, spades, clubs, diamonds.

I never thought she was paying much 
attention to me until she tapped the table,
ground down her cigarette and announced,
‘Let’s go to the back porch and shuck some peas.’

~ Robin J. Phillips Feb. 23, 2020