|Oct/Nov 2017 Poetry|
Image excerpted from Wandering in the Desert by Roe LiBretto
I had just turned twenty the day before. It was September, still hot, and my father and I were driving my car—a mustard-yellow Toyota Corolla—from Tempe to Dallas, south along Highway 10 through New Mexico, passing small towns connected one to the other by telephone wires and electric lines strung between poles marking the road we drove. It felt like the end of everything.
I had just dropped out of school. I had disappeared on Labor Day, after three days of partying, and driven to California with a guy I'd just met. We wanted to go to the beach. My roommates called my parents when I didn't come home. I arrived back in Tempe before my dad. This was my choice: home to my parents, a therapist they'd already lined up. Telephone poles and wires strung from one to the other, the sun baking the shame in, home to the room I grew up in at the end of the road through West Texas.
I wouldn't stop drinking then. I'd still go off and not tell anyone. This was just a pause: two days across the desert into the low plains and farmland of North Texas, sitting next to my father whose relief and disappointment hung heavy in the car, like the heat wavering above the asphalt road.
This is not a poem about
the light in October
or sitting in Susan's garden
or moss-covered stones
under the green
wrought-iron chair, the warmth
of the sun in this spot
tucked away from the wind.
Not about the wind carrying the sounds of
bluegrass, or the jade stone in a circle
of bricks, or the water tipping toward
the bird bath's edge. This is not
a poem about my father's death
this past spring, how the azaleas
bloomed pink as the sun rose
to meet summer, or about autumn
and the comfort of its now shorter days, how
the sun's slant softens grief's edge.
This is not a poem about
the darkness I hold too close,
time and its passing,
how each moment hands itself
to the next.
In the Grass
After Two Girls on a Lawn by John Singer Sargent
Two girls on a lawn so soft
the one in black sleeps
her head cradled in her bent arm
the other in a ruffled white dress
props herself up on her elbow
rests her head on her hand
As a girl I'd lie in the grass to study the clouds
Or swinging bend back over the seat
to turn the world upside down
inhaling the sharp scent of freshly mown grass
stained hands and knees
Years ago I told my brother
as we drove through hills of tall grasses
that I always dreamed of running barefoot through the grass toward someone
and he replied on the verge of divorce cockleburs hurt
Two girls on a lawn napping
a study of white and green and black
not of grass and its stickers
how even through fabric it scratches