It’s 12 degrees the night air slices through my sweater my teeth chatter. Standing in the lot fetching my cell phone from the glove box my breath congeals around my face a cloud. I look up at the moon snowflakes dancing on my forehead. Luna’s face is shrouded by a cirrus veil, but her eyes are yours her lips soft caressing curl upwards in a smile as yours. I tell her of my love and she whispers her love reflectively in the voice I hear as I curl next to your picture slipping slowly into sleep.
Ensconced on the couch, the cat hears a bird singing outside the window. Once, she would have pressed her face against the screen, imagining a great chase. Now she listens, content to let the birds sing into the fading sun.
Richard Wilbur lives in Massachusetts and in Key West, Florida according to his dust jackets. If you set sail westward from San Diego you may find your dream of China, of the endless wall which draws the stares and wonder more foreboding more forbidden even than the city, which you visit to sate yourself of lights, sirens and the blood heat of steam grates. It is far easier than digging and far less dirty, and the walls of the sea rise more slowly. Once it was a risky journey the danger of the edge looming over the horizon, but then digging was no option, pushing deeper with your crude shovel, knees bloody, until, at last, you broke through with dreams of the dragon as you fell into the limitless void. Now you sail with dreams of the Pacific sky, although water has no need of names. The poet has grandchildren now, and it is to them to dream of the China that was.
First appeared in Midnight Mind, Number Two (2001) and again in The Right to Depart, Plainview Press, (2008)
The priest droned on, a short passage from Micah had some questioning prophecy. Within the coffin we suspect Agnes too grew even more impatient, wanting final rest, wanting the party to begin, hating the tears. Later, with wine flowing, somewhere in the gray sky I imagine her knowing wink.
It is that moment when the moon is a glaring crescent, slowly engulfed by the impending night — when the few clouds give out their fading glow In the jaundiced light of the sodium arc street lamp.- It nestles the curb — at first a small bird — when touched, a twisted piece of root
I want to walk into the weed-strewn aging cemetery, stand in the shadow of the expressway, peel the uncut grass from around her head- stone. I remember her arthritic hands clutching mine, in her dark, morgueish apartment, smelling of vinyl camphor borsht I saw her last in a hospital bed where they catalog and store those awaiting death, stared at the well-tubed skeleton barely indenting starched white sheets. She smiled wanly and whispershouted my name — I held my ground unable to cross the river of years unwilling to touch her outstretched hand. She had no face then, no face now, only an even fainter smell of age of camphor of lilac of must
Next to the polished headstone lies a small, twisted root. I wish it were a bird, I could place gently on the lowest branch of the old maple that oversees her slow departure.
First appeared in Legal Studies Forum, Vol. 30, No. 1-2, 2006 and in The Right to Depart, Plainview Press, 2008.
This morning I made the mistake of asking where the coffee beans were. My spouse didn’t hear me, but Siri offered her opinion, leaning toward Guatemala. That didn’t set well with Alexa who said they were either in the cabinet over the stove, of in Papua New Guinea, since she prefers lower acidic coffee. Probably unsurprising, but Siri did not take well to being corrected, and got into it with Alexa, and I was left trying to interject, being ignored. I asked the Google Voice Assistant to intercede, but it only wanted to know which voice I wanted it to speak with, and then froze completely awaiting my answer.
My mother wanted to tell me of my great-grandmother, a woman she barely knew, but who she imagined more fully that life itself would ever have allowed. History, in her hands was malleable, you could shape it in ways never happened. She wanted to tell me but she knew that her grandmother wouldn’t approve of adopting when your womb was perfectly serviceable, certainly not for a man more than a decade older who could not uphold his most sacred obligation. She wanted to tell me, but I am adopted and this woman can be no more than a story of passing relevance to me.