The Tenth Year
Remember the birch trees on our land?
You cleared the area, snapping the thin white limbs,
bundling them, then a hoist to your shoulders
to carry them to the road,
your cold cracked fingers
dry and tight fisted after.
Soon you spoke fewer words,
you cradled the baby
in the creaky rocker
and said hush hush,
as the snow touched windows.
From our kitchen,
I watched you cut, clear, quiet
the acre, the low pines nearby.
I’d walk the yard
and pick up a twig you dropped,
I’d hold it hard,
until it was hot
and my breath sounded
It wasn’t your voice tone- or was it?
Anger, and everything senseless, out of order
no longer sacred.
Someone speaks of next time, to come in
to learn more, make that a habit.
When I have to have,
those unripe berries on the counter
trigger a longing,
for sugar, thrown in a mouth, my mouth.
Oh, I know about requisite complacency.
That time I saw the chipped, burned log
on the beach near Kitsap,
I didn’t see one fish fly,
The neighbor is clearing the front rock garden,
the tree drops prickly buds.
Today he wears clean khakis and a brown sweater.
You swear no one sees him,
sometimes he stands for a few seconds
he wants to rub his back
and you think, ah, just have a cigarette,
do it! Sit on the big rock
and light one
blow the smoke high.
At the Windemere Hotel off I 10 in Tucson
you have to check in at the side window
if it’s after 10. What? This doesn’t make sense.
There is a fire in the lobby fireplace, there are plants
but stop- hold your wallet open, prove who
you are, ok so the stars are not visible
this won’t matter as you cross the dead grass
and pass dirty lawn chairs, you won’t look up.
It’s 1 am, and you think of your daughter’s small pink bra
dropping out of the opened car hatchback as
she searched for something today,
the bra skidded across the gas station lot
the pump clicked, there were quick tears,
you want to sleep, you want to farm land,
you want to tell Peter so what, say that back to him
50 times, 50 years ago.
In your dreams, planes stall.
Someplace near Phoenix
Pick up the bra fold it away
it is almost time to go.