Excerpt


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Excerpt Poems: "Three Jack Spring," "Reading my Son to Sleep," "Solitude"

Three Jack Spring

Three jack spring
briefly laid
on the wet grass
and forming
a loose silver triangle

And wasps
slow circling
as the careful dialling
of a rotary phone
their buzz the sound
of the numbers passing

And apple blossoms
from an overhanging bough
a few settling on the scales
as if to ice the fish
the others settling
on the cool patch of grass

Unseen is the heap
of the fisherman’s son
all the fingers slick
with blood and slime
and curled into themselves
to make a tiny moon

Unseen is the heap
of cedar sawdust
red as the salmon flesh
rich too with the musk
of the life that’s seeping
into the ground

Gone now are the fish
the patch of grass, the dust,
the blossoms and wasps.

But that hand is this hand
poised to pick up
on the first ring
of that call
which never comes
except as the wind
in the silver triangle
then static, than darkness,
then nothing at all.


Reading My Son to Sleep

Last night, for the first time, I went down the well
my father went with me.
It plunged deeper than the back of the little skull
whose edge lay page-thin on the white pillow
and darker than the earth’s dusk seeping in
to blot the secret passwords that I spoke.

“Hello,” I tested with each downladdering breath,
the letters pattering like rain in the murk
and echoing off the cavernous stone. A blink,
a butterfly’s tentative settle, and the slight
way back had briefly closed.

Another blink, and I was left
with the aftersound of uttered entrance,
my eyes guttering, arms loose as rope.

With an inward cry I could not help
I watched darkness flood the praying-book.


Solitude

A house under stars, still yet poised
as the white-tailed doe who stands,
head lifted, sniffing, a foot beyond
the supple chamois stretch of light
extending from a reading lamp.

Many-windowed, a house on a slope
through which the eyes of the wild peer
at a height equal to the stars, through
which the measured breath of being
pins the pages on a desk.

Earth-bound, a house of old wood
against which the hides of passing herds
still brush, and for which
the paper of an open, unread book
still longs.

A man under stars, hunched,
earth-bound, opaque of spirit,
what else shall he long for
to merit the doe’s tentative address
and the stars’ constancy
than the flesh that shelters him
and a small gap in the absence
of his wilderness?