|Apr/May 2015 Poetry|
Photograph by Rus Bowden
Sunset, Far From The City
The sun behind a tall stone wall of clouds in the West
grew more and more luminous: pink and orange that
shouldn't even exist. My neighbor Art leaned on his
upside-down rake as he called out to me. He pointed
at the sky. So we talked, turned to it, not each other.
As the fire faded until I could barely see him, we
joked about groundhogs and one new-antlered deer
who eats everything he doesn't trample. Then I said
You'll have no light left to rake, and Art crossed back
into his own yard to somehow gather a pile of gold
maple leaves that seemed shattered bits of sun, left
to smolder in the dusk. He melted into a shadow
behind his house but still I heard his rake scratch.
And thought watching sunsets is like watching the sea.
Is watching fire set in anger like that, too? By then
it was silent, and the air was cold. And so I went in.
I think of my mother when I write fiction,
how she lost the way Chopin and Bach laid
their hands over hers while she practiced piano
like the kind uncles they weren't, how she lost
New York City's pure grey sky outside
her desk's 16th floor window at Macmillan,
lost even her squat, stop-sign-red Correcting
Selectric typewriter. I think of how she
remembers what she cannot remember.
The stories flood away from her but still
she scoops them to her lips and tells them.
This shouty new hamburger joint must
be the place where she went dancing after
the War. And didn't I love Spotty the terrier,
who nipped at the grocer's delivery boy
twenty years before I was born? I can't
say no. There's a Juliet balcony in Verona,
a Headless Horseman bridge in Sleepy Hollow.
And at Winchester Cathedral, a dazzling
maze of stained glass smashed to bits by
Cromwell, but leaded back together in
the Restoration—kings' heads, the hands
of saints, all out of context and bright as
anything broken, beautiful and gathering light.