Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Tuesday Poem: previously published by Fox Chase Review in 2009

First The Heart Goes 

Then the head.
The way it was  
with the ruffed grouse
you found in the backyard,
knocked out of the sky,
windfall for some night hawk.

And Nana too --
caught mid-flight
by too much loss and sorrow.

Of course, you bent to study it,
poor thing, filled, as you are, 
with reverence for beauty 
that never lets you 
close enough 
to see more than 
a quiver and blur.

Wasn’t she like that too --
quicksilver;  couldn’t sit still?

Overnight its chest came up empty,
hollow and dry as a cave;
the tribe that once lived there
fleeing, feathers left blowing.

Her heart, torn apart early on: 
a piece for each of her husbands,
the rest shredded the day your mother died.
How she wept, and asked God,
why hadn't he taken her first?
When they said she couldn't
drive any more, she told you she 
felt cavernous as an empty house.

And just one more day
for the body to abruptly
stop at the neck, mindless
as you were, lured by the long 
tail feathers, the golden ruffs,
bending over this bloodless thing
to pull them out. How easily 
the body lets them go.

In the tiny senior citizen’s 
apartment, she began to pace
and couldn’t stop crying,
burned her dinners,  forgot
how to take her pills.

Listen to you: making crow sounds,
as you spread desire’s shadow
across these relics of a 
radiance you yearn for.
Until you've taken
all you can, fetching
shovel and rake to
bring the leavings back
to the clean-up crew
in the woods.

So little left, by the time she died
in the nursing home. Just the scalloped
gold wedding band, that fits on
the end of your pinky,
and a little pile of pictures,
you keep in a drawer by your bed.

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