LET THE WORDS FALL WHERE THEY MAY
Let darkness come
With only a star here or there
A doughy biscuit moon
Unfazed by clouds passing by.
Let storms slash across treetops
Lightning spiking to the ground
Thunder rumbling through the walls
Knocking limbs to earth.
Let snow pile the roadbank
Remove all color from the world
Freeze long tears from my rooftop
The snowflakes disappearing instantly in my hand.
Let the words come like an ache
Moving through my timid hand
Unafraid of stormy night and black and white
The ink a ragged tracing of my life's map.
(For Ann Richmond)
Among all the things
Ann wished for at the end:
Two white shirts
Her book of Shakespearean sonnets
And the sound of his steady breathing
Napping in the chair at her bedside.
She dreamed snap peas and raspberry vinaigrette
Tall dahlias, snapdragons, nasturtium
The yellow-fringed orchids
She hiked three miles to see
Spoke soft vowels
Carrying Carolina Wrens
The white crane
That took out her father’s eye.
There’s aesthetically appealing Death:
The face of a dying foal
I have just liberated
From leathery placenta with a butcher knife;
The performance art of a Kingsnake
A whole nest of baby Bluebirds
Framed in the perfect background
Of azure sky and emerald hill.
And the real inheritance of Mother Nature:
A skeleton with skin
Gasping loudly for air
Lungs filled with cancer’s froth
The air heavy with a sister’s wailing.
I am resigned
To a thickening waist
Deeply lined skin
Surprised in my mirror
By my wrinkly smile.
Wild gray hairs
Sprout like little exclamation marks
All around my face
For little daily epiphanies.
I relax into a soft pillow of years
The body fades
So sense and spirit can flourish—
Middle age is molting season.
My children are strong
Beautiful, confident, defiant
But plain blind ignorant –
Life has not paid them a visit yet.
When they were home
They put up posters
Collages of images from magazines
Where they could be Creator
My daughter called today
To say she was moving to New Jersey
So she wouldn’t grow up
To be me.
(She didn’t actually say that last part.)
In New Jersey that aren’t pathetic
Provincials: they know wine and design
And Nineteenth century Parisian art.
Up there things move so fast
Death can’t even blow a cold breath
In a room, let alone grab hold of you.
There’s no silence to be found
So she’s safe.
Will they say I made a good end?
Even if I don’t, I think
I’ll copy her-
Ask for the shirts and sonnets
In case the Bible and fiddle music aren’t enough
Pray for grace and peace,
For once in my life
Try to go natural, right, and quiet
As a summer storm passing.