EVERYTHING SUNDAY BACKYARD
How is it the morning light slanting
just so through the filtering boughs
makes even the white plastic chair by
the childrenís pool yet another thing praised
by the cicadasí hymnal? Broader afternoon
light palms the flat of the lawn, each leaf
has its moment to shine, concentrated
in the sunís attention. You putter, pull weeds,
grouse at gnawed plants you laid in just last week,
teeth marks like calling cards from elusive
rabbits. Debate whether to defrost chicken
or chops for the eveningís bar-b-que as light
shifts, stripes the yard with long shadows. Bees
ribbon the air, loop over tender blossoms sighing
into first drooping folds, small birds hold
a long note, harmonize with rusted sounds,
crows in the crooks of a staggered, leafless
tree you keep meaning to pull down.
PLATITUDES FROM HELL
It will not be all right.
You will never be the same.
You will think about him/her/them/it every day.
“It could never happen to me” will be dropped
from your personal phrasebook.
I’ll be there for you until you get too weird
and make me feel uncomfortable.
At least you have your (physical, if not mental
or emotional) health.
Time does not heal all wounds.
God only gives you what you can handle.
I’m sure you did everything you could.
Do you have a sense of closure yet?
There is medication for this, you know.
The night ghost in the hallway jangles
at the edges of things, tacks into the sharp
corners, tense and angular with old fevers
and ribs of grief, darkening the motes of the air.
The dog lifts her head off the bed, alert.
Questions the shifts of shadows, squints
at the altering of the room she guards, a growl
in her throat as I read poems aloud in bed.
The walls warm up to the curl of my tongue
and light reaches into each corner, casting
a fret of lacy shadows through a spider web,
and the dog eases her head down.
The night ghost remembers the word
dandelion and what yellow felt like,
and how the world used to open
wide like a summer day,
slow and sweet and round.
The whole day has been like this, a freewheeling
anxiety like moths fluttering in a jar. The dogs,
a cacophony of barking, need to go out, another
thing I must do on the endless daily list. Clipping
their collars to the long leads, I resent the walk
at the start as I always do, the inevitable tangle
of leashes, the jerking pulls and sudden stops,
until I re-master the marionette maneuvers
of two dogs, two leashes, two arms, until I get
the rhythm down. The little dog casts back
his furry grin to share this joy with me, this sheer
pleasure of the cool autumn air, the trees starting
to color, and I feel something loosening as I smile
back, give myself over to the moment with them.
We pass the yard of the woman who nods reluctant
hellos, the old manís hedge, and it breaks, this
rogue wave, taking the green and the light, and air
in its wake. Three months since you died, and yet
here are the dogs, the day, and my feet stumbling
with the knowledge that I do not know how to navigate
my life without the constant of you being in it.
Over coffee cups and tea mugs,
the clatter of dishes on so many different
table tops. Riding the rising swirl
of a thousand cigarettes, wading through
the bleary puddles of a nightís last glass
of wine. How many words have I
spoken to you, and you to me
for some thirty-odd years?
Itís not where we are, some diner,
the joke of the plastic menu
six pages long, or what we say, but
the familiar laughter, patter and rhythm
of your voice mixed with mine
that will leave a long pleasure
on the ride home, the days after.
fiction poetry "fact" photography