|Apr/May 2009 Poetry Special Feature|
That foggy curtain across
the canyon—is it rain or wishing,
after so long drought?
In the field, last summer's star-
thistle glints tarnished-silver, brittle.
It pricks the fingers, sheep
won't eat it. Don't tell me nothing
threatens the flock. The old ewe's
in tatters, last summer's wool
rag-tag catching on every stalk.
We could make mill-harvest of these
leavings, if there were such
a market. End of day, end of line.
You take me by the shoulder,
point through leafless oaks.
That blaze of sunset under clouds
as if it were a promise. Curtain
lifting. As if this were the first act
opening. It's thunder-weather,
a drenching hoedown
Imitation of Virtue
As threatened, dinner's motif was the color
brown. Brisket of beef, sad reminder of a lowing
life keeled down without swan song,
blood through muscle, hearth-braised till
stoically tough; a sauce to soak mashed potatoes.
The honored guest kept his wisdom
like a disembodied head behind curtains,
muted sepia of a late-grieved uncle's portrait.
Three blown lilies to recall first
passion: three blossoms with brittle lips.
Ancestral penance is the heaviest.
Virtue comes easy to a flesh
already flayed. Oh when
will Mother allow us one brief
brazing evening of carnelian and jade?