We Are the Eighth Day, © Melanie Weidner


Public Enemies

Halfway through Michael Mann’s Public Enemies, about the time I should have been engrossed in the tommy-guns-a-blazin’ battle between bad guy John Dillinger (Johnny Depp) and good guy Melvin Purvis (Christian Bale), I found myself staring at the beautiful overcoat Dillinger was wearing, the hip sunglasses he had on and the way Purvis’s stylish hat was nattily cocked upon his head.

Carbon footprint

Mine is reasonably small
having always lived low,
turned off lights and faucets,
eschewed useless stuff,
reused, recycled.
I do not aspire to shrink it,
but, like the first people
in these green hills,

I want to leave
no footprint at all,
to move through life
in gentle, charitable silence
not disturbing fragile things,
cosmic balances
or the universal pulse
so that, when my candle
sputters into darkness,
the tiniest leaf is unmoved
by the wisp of its rising smoke.


What isn't there

                                    —September 2001

The painter in overalls, he’s somewhere uptown,
his blue-spattered hands tensed on a grating.
Imagine him climbing the latticed scaffolding.

No children at the crossing for the library,
whose two dark lions drowse, even now,
imperturbable. No low light along an alleyway,

the pawn shops, moments laced with faces
in windows, in cars. The sidewalk murmurs
under our feet, worries and flutters at curbs,

until, unthought, it leaves us empty, down and
rooted, within ourselves. Insistent still: what was
but isn’t there, what fills this space with space.


Votive stations

Silence is misery, said a friend
in a casual comment on the phone.
Elizabeth spent three days with no one
to interrupt her but her own fears.
Lulls during which she noticed
the buzz and pop, resting from the hike
on a stone. Her retreat intended
to evade noise, but she found
the clawing of forest murder
and distant yelps. That’s when
she saw a tree, already turned
the color of flame against the others’
ordinary green, like the great voice
of one who had to speak. Not a word
for three days, unable to resist
the conversation released within.
Slow sun upon a single tree
that stands without explanation
on the edge of the meadow
with red leaves, a hawk glides above
the landscape of pines
between silence and speech.