Pouring damp memories over dying embers,
anticipating the pop, sizzle and hiss of regret,
I refuse the temptation to stir the ash,
re-confirm the smolder hides no live fire.
Driving a rented van packed with her–
obstructed the view of road left behind,
held fleeting glimpses, speeding past blades
grass, roller, razor, “Did you bring knives?”
A mother reviewing, checking, fretting
the details whirring ahead to the horizon.
Unpacking the view clear, opened us up
to ponder, muse the hours in notes, little
cares, rehearsed sentiments, deficiencies
repeated with silent knowing nods, all said.
I play the game of focused movement
to wile the hours, trick time to obey, my eyes
follow, attached to the point out there as all
else spins and races, rattles empty spaces ablur.
A splinter swollen sore and angry, riotous red
throbbed through a chipped thumb reminds me
I waited for you on wooden slats in the park
while you twirled a dizzy dance of fractured tune.
I stifled an urge to call out, make you notice,
but the stretching sound that circled us then
that moment I was churning in your disregard
of the world, of me, of the beckoning children
could not blanket the distance between us,
the one I carried up to your bed, squared
to the wrong wall on the wrong floor in a room.
I Go Back to May 1937 (from The Gold Cell)
I see them standing at the formal gates of their colleges,
I see my father strolling out
under the ochre sandstone arch, the
red tiles glinting like bent
plates of blood behind his head, I
see my mother with a few light books at her hip
standing at the pillar made of tiny bricks with the
wrought-iron gate still open behind her, its
sword-tips black in the May air,
they are about to graduate, they are about to get married,
they are kids, they are dumb, all they know is they are
innocent, they would never hurt anybody.
I want to go up to them and say Stop,
don’t do it–she’s the wrong woman,
he’s the wrong man, you are going to do things
you cannot imagine you would ever do,
you are going to do bad things to children,
you are going to suffer in ways you never heard of,
you are going to want to die. I want to go
up to them there in the late May sunlight and say it,
her hungry pretty blank face turning to me,
her pitiful beautiful untouched body,
his arrogant handsome blind face turning to me,
his pitiful beautiful untouched body,
but I don’t do it. I want to live. I
take them up like the male and female
paper dolls and bang them together
at the hips like chips of flint as if to
strike sparks from them, I say
Do what you are going to do, and I will tell about it.