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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 11: January 2022
Poem: 271 words
By Virginia A. Smith

The Idea of Order in South Jersey

After Wallace Stevens
We on the spectrum celebrated 
   lockdown and quarantine as an Aspy’s 
      dream. Free from speech codes, 

   manners, the painful noise of human 
      others, I hunkered down in Mom’s 
         and my double-wide that March, 

      my arts and crafts table silent 
         as a Zen garden, where I twisted grapevine 
            into wreaths sprouting purple plastic fruit, 

         decoupaged Christmas trees, laying glitter 
            as thick as snowfall on green triangles. 
               Come April and May, I was dug deep 

            in my planting; by September tomatoes, 
               pole beans and zukes filled all our baskets,  
                   so on to canning. I could not return 

            to Comcast, the other IT’ers talk at lunch 
               about football, girls’ night out, 
                  social clusters that send me to 

               my panic place. Left to myself brings me 
                  order and fun. Now I work a quiet job, 
                     restacking books at the local library, 

               just me and my cart. I do try to pick up on 
                  idioms there, though, like back atcha, 
                     which you say facing the person’s face, 

               team player, which does not refer to 
                  sports, and baby showers where no one 
                     showers. I write it all down.

                Tomorrow I return to my voice coach 
                   and acting class. I don’t know how I play 
                      other characters, but it’s never when 

                   the drama coach says, “You’re a grieving 
                      mother. Go!” I translate his language 
                         into my mind. I think of my library 

                   cart upended, garden gobbled by critters, 
                      then I embody deep sorrow like skin. 
                         But when he talks about multiplicity, 

                      polyphony, aesthetic distance, I 
                         stroke my blanket swatch, cover my ears, 
                            walk perfect squares on stage. 



—From the poet’s book-in-progress, America’s Daughters & Other Poems, a series of 20 woman-voiced interior monologues.

Virginia A. Smith
Issue 11, January 2022

lives in Fairmont, Philadelphia, her adopted city, where she reads and writes, hikes and bikes, serves as a home chef/caterer, and loves on her family and friends. Her poems are published in Blue Lake Review, Corvus Review, Ginosko Literary Journal, Mobius, Quartet, The Southern Review, Uppagus, Verdad, and Yes Poetry; and forthcoming in Evening Street Review, West Trade Review, and a handful of anthologies. Her book Biking Through The Stone Age is forthcoming in 2022 from Kelsay Books. And she is currently at work on a collection entitled America’s Daughters & Other Poems.

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