Saturday, September 27, 2014

There was a word

"t h e r e   w a s  a  w o r d

                                 for that -- I am forgettin' it;
forgettin' things I thought I'd never not know --
As I once understood th' way a shackle will turn

to follow th' wire rope reaching back to th' pulley,
or which way th' water will run when it falls
from th' crook of an east-leaning alder in th' rain,

or run from an alder's elbow that leans west,
when th' storm comes in, always from southwest.
Oh, th' word! A short one, I should be able to just

say it! Clevis! Yes, we called a shackle a Clevis,
I don't know why. So, John, he picked up th' Clevis
and hung it on th' drawbar of the Cat, slipped

th' loop onto it, and reached to set th' pin;
but Alley, he thought he'd heard John say 'Ready,'
an' put her into gear. So. That wire rope

sang just like a bowstring, an' th' Clevis
rotated right around th' slot in th' drawbar
an' went through John like he was made of suet.

He stood there for a moment -- like me now –
trying to remember. Fixin' in his mind
what it had been like, bein' alive."

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Cityscape with pink rose

c i t y s c a p e  w i t h  p i n k  r o s e

I stop at the flower lady's cart
to see does she have roses. There are a few,
with straggling leaves. The blooms

are decent still, especially those in pink.
She interrupts her desultory lunch,
brushing crumbs from her sleeve, to slip

a long-stemmed pink from among red buds,
carries it to her work table, and deftly wraps
the stalk in yellow paper, tying it,

gentle-fingered, with a thin red ribbon.
I watch her eyes as I buy; they are like
those in the face I love, but the spirit is closed:

she has dwelt upon disappointments.
As I turn away, I see in my mind's
eye, myself turning back to buy for her

one of her own roses. Ha! no doubt she must
throw away many; of all things, wouldn't
she be sick, by now, of flowers?

Trading as she does in signs
of happiness to others, what would be
happiness for her, here, now? I catch

her tracking me warily as if to say:
is there some problem with the rose? No.
Or, rather, yes. No. I stand, unworded

by the mystery of unsharable joy.

Saturday, September 13, 2014


c a r e f u l l y

As the rains return again, she notes, almost
in passing, how her strait love remains;
how darkness, wind, and sorry days of

work and worry cannot shake it. We are not
built to last; we know that. Some speak of life
as it were stark tragedy alone, a

trudging from diaper to death bed, doomed
because end it must. Others try, by seeking
comedic relief, to put such gloom aside,

assuming that to live brightly today will,
somehow, pay for the pain of barely living
later, when last years have but begun.

Her truth: somewhere between. She would,
if the gods permitted, lose herself in your eyes
every day of forever, but knowing this

will end, and relatively soon, makes her not
over-sad, nor will she lie to you now
with thoughtless laughter; rather it makes her

carefully love you, deeply as she does here,
breathing your name in, breathing it out, like prayer.

Saturday, September 6, 2014


g r a c e

They do not always sit with an easy grace,
the aging: in afternoon light, even in October,
cracks invade her clear skin,

showing in relief, and he knows dismay,
seeing her, his own once simple face
crowding itself, as when a life within

doors runs out of thought. Yet, sober
as this renders him, he will not turn away
from her to seek some easier play:

there is no win or lose, no hunt, no race,
no battle. His eyes would disrobe her,
for she is to him more than she has been,

and he would know all, even here,
as passers pass, not seeing what his eyes see;
but he will wait on her clear sign

that this is welcome, even from his gaze,
for she has known most men hold themselves dear;
known too long their avarice that she

should shape to their dreams, their ways,
their endless drawing round her of sharp lines,
their wrapping an arm carelessly round her days,

their failing, in this many years, to touch the key
moment of her heart, that movement lacking fear
when she might freely give, without design.

Placing her hand in his, she shifts and sighs;
a not unhappy sound, considering the hour
and how late, as well, this man has come to her:

five decades they have lived apart,
as though all meaning had to be deferred;
as though autumn alone might show love's power;

as though some god, having hated happy hearts,
had suddenly relented, offering them this prize.