The Relativity Stare-Down: 41st Post

A Portal Through Mysterious Woods sm*

 

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

A tree isn’t “tall” except in relation to us,
who are “short.”  The heart of a hummingbird
fills the world.  Try
to apply this principle to loved ones
who shrink with age,
slow down and speed up according to
the weather, forget where things
are but remember how things were,
what it was like in Columbus Grove, Ohio,
how to tie a clove hitch, or a sheet bend,
but who’s that asking am I all right
and can I tell her who she is?
I’m anonymous as winter and twice as old
and she could be too—what’s the point of telling her
anything?  It’s a red and black flannel shirt
I remember,
with little rips in the shoulders
and soft threads that hang from the cuffs,
brushing against me like second thoughts.

Erosion: 40th Post

Flowers starting to wilt sm

THE WOMAN WHO FELL INTO DISREPAIR

forgets that parts of her
are missing
that other parts once
angled for attention

she took time
as if it couldn’t be bent, flattened, eliminated, reordered
and effort
as if it was matter
as if it mattered
as if it could be compressed or exploded, colored in, Photoshopped out
with her everywhere,
twin burdens slung from a yoke

she ignored the warnings all around
the flags, sirens, scars, flashing
beacons, allergic reactions, slaps on the
cheek, fullness, emptiness, the color red,
the lack of color

she had let it go let it all go let it go let the cells
puff up or fall where they would into the cracks in her arms and legs
over the dents in her lips through the tunnels in her scalp
into the empty spaces she’d forgotten

a landfill of woman
a historical dustbin
an entire lost tribe
too remote and ugly to signify

The Mockery of the Swollen Garden: 29th Post

Sunflower & bees

 

After the Death of His Twin

—for John Fuller, age 80

 

The solo creak of his Naugahyde chair.

 

The excess of fruit broadcasting its ripeness.

 

In the closet, twice the needed pants and shirts, twice the needed gaping shoes, worn at the heel.

 

The nervous voice of his landlord, trying to remember which one passed.

 

The sniff and yip of the dog, double-checking under the table.

 

The mockery of the swollen garden.

 

The sports section left folded with the classifieds.

 

His unspoken opinion of the news story about welfare mothers.

 

The uselessness of the second bookmark pressed into the novel.

 

In front of the TV, half the snoring noise to waken him to his started insistence, “I wasn’t…”

 

The other narrow bed, tightly tucked.

 

The hearing aid left on the end table for the first time.

 

In the bathroom mirror, only two hips, two nipples, one penis.

 

The surprising regularity of his heartbeat.

Those Awful Heads: 23rd Post

Amish Dresses Drying on a Clothes Line

 

This poem was published in The Centennial Review (Vol. 38, No. 2, Spring 1994).

 

Esther

Are all the doors locked?
Is the stove on? You’ll
check it? All right then
I’ll leave that to you.
Do you like colored glass?

See this clear blue vase?
When I was five I’d
say to my aunt where’s
my pity pitcher? She’d say
here it is darlin and

she gave me that pticher
I treasure it more than
anything I have. My grandmother
never gave me anything. My
daughter says I shouldn’t remember

such but how can I
help it? Is the stove
on? Do you think the
stove is on? No? Well
then all right. And as

I was telling you we
had geese in a pen
about as big as this
room and one time they
jumped up and flew and

a coyote got one of
em and carried it off
too far our gun couldn’t
shoot so far you know.
Have you ever heard coyotes

howl? My mother said they
shouldn’t have left their nice
pen. Are all the doors
locked? We’re isolated here you
know. Though I could swing

a polecat by the tail
I guess it’s OK you
say they’re all locked? Well
then all right. Are you
going to be here in

the house with me all
night? Will you sleep up
there or down here? As
I was saying one summer
a woman visited me at

our cottage up north and
she hated the woods. She
didn’t like the spider at
the swimming dock either I
told her it was my

pet and how did she
like my other pet this
garter snake. Well she went
home after two weeks though
she was supposed to stay

with me all summer. But
that was better don’t you
think? Are you going to
be here in the house
with me all night? Are

all the doors locked? You’ll
check them? Good then I’ll
leave that to you. Do
you think the stove is
on? No? All right then.

Do you like to travel?
It’s good for a person
to go places while they’re
young. My parents went up
to the Black Hills once

oh they were pretty that
was before those heads were
there. The Indians were real
mad you know when they
put in those awful heads.