POETRY

Perseus in a Box

The unmanageables of today, like green-gold fish.
The old man ebbs with the tide and counts the day’s lack
as a mud impression of his wife’s thin face. The fisherman
is Dictys, caught in myth. All he has is blonde sand
like crushed rice, crushed between his toes, and the east
wind a tic along the shore. A bronze chest with seaweed
is half-buried because it is sea-junk. He kicks the chest, and
sees the frocked bodies of a mother and son — one buffers
the other. His wife had been barren. The old man leans
forward, unthinking a story,
and a whisper,
The night, this darkness visible,
a copse of waves so near to your soft curls,
the shrill voice of the wind, bloodless, unheeded,
nested in your red cloak, fair little face.

Milkweed Pods

When the school bus deposited us
at the overgrown pear tree, anyone could hear
the quick rustle of our leaving, climbing

through the evergreen wall, across the open lawn,
always careful of the doorway window and
the old mute woman, the kind every neighborhood has… and there,
a pocket beside the wild thorny raspberry bushes and the
stubborn woody bracket, stood the slim columns of milkweed.

Some of the pods were like little chests
and had already spilled
the feather-mess, but other pods
were still tight as clamped oysters.
Cracking open the brittle shells with a crack and a rock–
spreading those cloudy insides between our fingers,
the lazy angels floated into the undergrowth.

Most of the kids left the empty pods scattered behind,
but my brother and I knew better. A little glitter, glue, and a few
tiny buttons and patterned handkerchief scraps from our mother’s junk
drawer is all it took–

And yet I knew the hungry distance grazing between myself
and those backyard afternoons. It was a fear
of the gray-stained woman stationed at her window.
It all went beyond the trespassing milkweed… my unkowing reached
to where the orange, wind-whipped field
greets the graveled road. It is a place.
How can you have something be a place, a guilt of doing–
the naive guilt, even, of something so,
so incredibly insignificant.

The Rocking Couch

We had an actual rocking-couch
that my brother and I fought over:
I would swing myself in a poverty
of balance into cautious sleep.

There was a song my mother would sing
about me being her sunshine… the tune was sung
there in that room.
Her woven shirt was blue
as the clotted scent of the air between seasons,
drained and dropped like a morning.

It was spring. Someone made tomato soup
and peanut-butter-and-honey sandwiches…
My father would call me to the table
in a clatter of plates, silverware – the thin sound
of glasses filling… and the sofa, miserable,
would rock furiously in the first moments of my absence.

This is where the boy gets lost–
in the time it takes to leave the rocking-couch
and come to the table, loss like a boy
misplacing his shoe in a mix of wooden blocks or
wedged underneath the root of some chair…
Loss like the movement of that dumb sofa and its memory
of the little boy’s body.

Evening

As an apology to the meadow
the sun slides into the distant tree-line.
It is for the day spent in bright blindness.

And on that red horizon, the ocean
consoles the harbor with the bored brooding,
lapping, brooding fingers
tracing a blue escape.

The birds outside my window command a different invocation…
a calming song, a candle to forget
the darkness.

There is an understanding, obviously.
I think about roosts…
a netting of branches, sometimes
the broken wood splintered like a child’s

embrace of a misplaced toy;
And I see
a bird nuzzling the tree into
dreams of shallow breezes on the wings of a
summer return.