WINTER / SPRING 2008
P. 115 - 120
—For a poetry professor not mine
Suppose I folded all excuses away in the cedar chest upstairs
then asked you to tea. Margaret said of course dear go and Ed
said you know you should, please say so if you need help. You
cast reservations overboard returning from a cove with no name
and thought between summer companies why not? I set about
tucking daylilies into cobwebs I’d have apologized for before
and commenced whistling dust into paisleys and scrolls banishing
embarrassments from this day hence. Arranging piles into artful
compositions I conducted furniture and windows just so and
auditioned passed-down linens for best-worked ones I assigned
to swallows to freshen over the field. Hearing they were warming up
for you they were happier than ever to yield and began rehearsing
fanciest flights they knew you’d want to review. Fiddlers came early
to keep me tuned in while preparations overall hummed as if customary
around here. What I wore wasn’t material, those days over, whatever
it was was fine. More notable was how having all forenoon
sipped wine distilled from all I wished I knew my cheeks were healthy
again with how I would surprise you with conversation glistening
but not too, both amusing and serious but not too, because all the hopes
in all my dear books listened to breathe best knowledge over me
whispering significant advisories cleverly disguised as insight. After I
played pavanes on the Chickering and you played the blues on your horn
brought along in case, we took to the wellhouse brookwater tea agreeing
Carruth would both approve and bless and wouldn’t Frost? The cake
was soaked in fresh lemon with new balm baked around its crust. You spoke
what you wished me to trust, learned perspectives in few due words we
spaced with perfect quietude in right places even tears when they blurred
because no other expression could serve we knew when it was time for you
to leave. Crows lifting from the locust in the hedgerow beyond the screen
joined with what sounded an incredible proud! proud!
We thanked each other with impeccable form said we must
do it again in another hundred years shook hands and laughed out loud
when you’d gone.
In spite of the fact that as everyone know,
The only way to keep the vernacular pure
Is to avoid the corruption of travel, supposin’ I
good man I’d be if I was one
(b) could drive again
(c) could swig beer with the best son-of-a-bitch
(d) said frig it and came to pick you up
in my truck
Down the damp cellar steps
we go single file
cobwebs brushing our hair and cheeks.
Flailing gloved hands at them,
we lift the heavy lid of the domed trunk.
In the first tray are boxed letters,
school notebooks filled with careful writing,
bits of lace and pink silk wrapped in cloth,
and two black metal strong boxes, empty,
everything dusted with fine white mold.
In the lower tray,
framed photographs of stoic ancestors
wrapped in fragile brown newspaper.
Blowing off the spores into the damp air,
out smile Lindbergh and Roosevelt,
von Papen and Goebbels,
Alf Landon, Henry Cabot Lodge,
and a blast of Hollywood stars.
Nazi news screams at us, ugly as the word,
but, knowing what we now know,
we can not find even a glimmer in those soft pages
Bright sun breaking through the clouds
from the east window on my left
suddenly makes visible
a distinct head-and-shoulders image of me
in the glass of the painting of pink asters
directly above my screen,
where I show ghostly there, too,
these very words tracing my left eyebrow.
what’s that downturn to my mouth –
the sadness that seems baked into my cheeks.
I flex the corners of my lips just slightly,
softening my spectral image,
and I smile among the pink flowers, too.
So hold me. You are beautiful.
Where is the light at the end of the candle?
It is in you, love. I feel you and that is how I know.
So hold me and do not shudder in the cold.
Holiday or holocaust, we dance on heavy feet.
And that you hold me is all I know, not where we trudge or tumble.
If blindness is a comfort, and comfort ease,
Then as a waltz we’ll wander and drink the fires from the breeze.
When the Owl Cries
When the owl cries
grazing deer run through the trees
behind the pumphouse
A light rain is falling now,
snow is in the air
Before morning comes
last night’s moon has disappeared
falling through the sky.
The trees darken before dawn.
A hard wind blows over leaves.
Snow is in the air–
a mother of pearl moon shines
In the evening sky