Chapter 16
A Community of Tennessee Writers, Readers & Passersby

“Taking Turns”

Laurie Perry Vaughen is the author of two new poetry chapbooks: Fine Tuning and What Our Voices Carry, both from Wild Columbine Press. Her poems have also appeared in Crab Orchard Review, Laurel Review, Kalliope, and Cold Mountain Review, among other journals. Vaughen has won the James Dickey Award from Lullwater Review and the Amon Liner Award from The Greensboro Review. An M.F.A. candidate at Sewanee School of Letters, she lives in Chattanooga.

Taking Turns

She’s wearing a shimmer of spokes,
silver shalwar kameez
the colors of summer, sliced melons.
She pedals by, is learning
to balance an American life.
At the edge of traffic
she stops, looks both ways.
She is taking turns.
I watch for her return, a sunset
caught mid-day amidst drab cars.
Her husband takes her place,
wears his white shirt tightly
buttoned at his throat.
He is learning
a vocabulary of trust,
a third or fourth language,
how two wheels carry him,
move together, separately.
They return to each other
more than once. Both unsteady
but orbiting the neighborhood.
The hand is reaching for the brake
when she arrives again
as the exact colors of lantana petals
near my porch, the marigolds,
the sleeping orange cat in the sun,
a pattern of blushing
pavers. The tight world,
the two-way street unfurls,
suddenly fluent, free.