Jul/Aug 2001  •   Poetry

Three Poems

by Larry Hirshberg

Montana's Jews

As the plane landed, we glimpsed wagon ruts
at the end of the runway.
The next day, the wind through White Sulphur
reminded us of that business
in Samarkand. Such a road!

Our feet carry the idea, the story of all streets:
The sole is repaired, the wheel is made round again
and eventually, distance silences cargo...

...and here, today, are these miracles:
Cottonwood fragrance lasts all winter.
Gold remains in the ground.


Old Boston Garden

It was easy to list our heroes—Causeway Street
carried that parade in any weather, any year.
The sticky shoes, the fists and filthy sinks
always formed their own circus and rolled,
but never completely out of town.
And that draft in the rafters, three score loose,
what did it carry, if not our fathers' game,
high into our own section of yellow seats?

After the last ticket was torn and swept away,
when the mystery material that dangled from the distant
ceiling was safely buried in the woods outside of town,
and even as the moon looked in, the night before the walls
came down, this Garden teemed with Boston's best:

The crowd, come like ghosts on the train,
the memories standing cramped again, yelling
not for athletes, not for entertainment,
just cheering in the sudden moment
when what makes us human,
and is often invisible, appears to thousands.


When Niceties Supplant Cargo...

Not words, lips will carry kisses.
Low numbers will appear in lights,
and flash slowly. Storerooms unlock,
a trend that spreads
to bedrooms. Hunched and doubled
spines unfold—
Colors deliver themselves.
Steeples are crowned only by the sky.

One day, a tank car plunges
from a trestle, falling a hundred feet
into a dusty, barren draw.
Melon-like, ripened by the drop,
it smashes, releasing its contents
into the earth.
It's only water, and at sunset, a crowd
gathers to watch birds and other creatures,
come to sip from the pastel wreckage.