Julie Brooks Barbour

Fields and Fences

At a dinner party, a conversation began, lifted and fell, then lifted again.
I listened closely, uncertain what to add, my life full of fields and fences,

dogs and hours alone, thinking the wind made the leaves applaud for me.
I wasn’t cosmopolitan. I never studied abroad. My people stayed put

and watched the world from their front doors. Anything out of the ordinary
made them uneasy. At the table, surrounded by acquaintances,

I trembled and feigned illness when the food found its way to me,
steam from the vegetables fogging my glasses. I took some anyway,

moving and picking at food on my plate. Then dessert was served,
a sweet something to pass the time. Sauce from the withered fruit

pooled in my mouth like words I would say if I could find them,
words that might make me appear interesting to the honored guest

who gave me a sidelong glance, or make the host not send me
into the humid evening with leftovers. Leaving the doorstep,

I hurried to my quiet car parked on the street,
the motor’s hum comforting, and escaped into the field of night.


Julie Brooks Barbour is the author of a chapbook, Come To Me and Drink (Finishing Line Press, 2012). Her poems have appeared in Waccamaw, Kestrel, UCity Review, diode, Prime Number Magazine, and on Verse Daily. She teaches at Lake Superior State University where she is co-editor of the journal Border Crossing.