Poetry - February, 2006

Poetry

Neighbor

You’ve gone AWOL and only
Jesus can bring you back, not this
poem that I began with the lie
that we can overhear your laughter,
not hubris or tears and rain.
You are an ocean who’s left
the nest of earth I thought you’d promised
not to. The sky who folded up
your blue tent and took off.

What remained, they packed off
to flame. Before the day we sat
to make your legend in the church,
I could almost feel your curious, dare-
devil spirit peel itself from the wall
of death like a cartoon character
and bop out to explore. So tell me
what you learned. Is it possible
to breathe astral, heavenly air?

And tell me. Was it worth it?—
all that sturm und drang you pitched
against our brother Death who’d rather
work in secret—swelling, hemorrhage,
collision of blood cells, collusion
over charts, snarled traffic of the body,
roads under construction, accident,
the rampage of doctors to prevent
the clever kleptomaniac from winning
as long as possible. He could only
steal your body. Which I miss, it’s true,
oh god, true. The screen door you
banged every afternoon, now silent.







Poetry

Miriam

    Her house was a three year old’s drawing
of a house—two windows on the second floor
with two below to flank the door.
On the porch a pair of supermarket tube
and webbing chairs in case a guest or two
dropped by plus one where she could lean way back,
a coverlet across her knees when fall
was in the air or she felt ill.

    The shades she always kept exactly so,
the ones above just low
enough to hide her on her way to bed,
the ones below up high to let
some daylight in. Now that the house is empty
as a drum, they’re every whichway
like an old drunk’s stare,
and somebody’s pinched the supermarket chairs.

    Sweet Jesus, forgive me all the days I spotted
her in one of them and slunk behind the trees
across the street. A caller on her porch
for all to see she would have rated
with her trip to England on a plane,
or winning first prize for her grapenut pie,
or the day that she retired from the Inn
and they gave her a purple orchid on a pin.

    Or having some boy ask her to dance,
or being voted president of her class,
or some spring morning with her room all warm
and sunlit waking up in Spencer Tracy’s arms.