She surprised me by leaving
sooner than expected, and all the stars winked
in time. We were happier
because we were larger, weightier, left out
in the rain. Soaked. I'll scrap
reconnaissance and suggest
we go back to the books,
the ones with merriment and pageants,
the ones with droves of scouts
loose in the land, or patches of frost
staining old parchment and cameos.
Scarecrows aren't made only of straw,
some can be quilted, embroidered,
made to stare into the sun as it sets
and never report back how dark it gets.
Search me if I've a clue why you remember,
why you always say the thing you wanted
to keep secret, why you open the drawer
ahead of time or close the door
too soon. It's enough to know
you like me well enough to grasp
the long, dissembling shambles
of my life, my aliases
and alibis, my favorite pet
and her carefully maintained poise.
Should I keep a glass bust for company?
Tell Tarzan we enjoyed the guavos.
Target achieved, now rest.
Keep back from the line of scrimmage.
Don't interfere with the navigator
or expunge agreed-upon details.
We aren't terribly keen on repayment.
Those debts one has wear in good health,
otherwise staunch the bleeding with tape
and Silly Putty. Don't mention armadillos
in my hearing; I've learned to go without
when necessary, crossing tar pits
on assback and taking the long way round
when it suits commerce. Avoid taxes,
they are the devil's work, vexing
as the plagues of Egypt, obscure
and exacting as the names of God.
When I blink I miss the point.
I've gathered up those odd herbs
you asked me for, like fennel
and wormwood, and stand ready
to set sail from the long coast of Illyria.
Won't you please send portions of your pants,
the ones you wore for homecoming,
all faded in the crotch, ripped
at the knees? He'll take her to task
for the hour she spent exposed on the couch,
but ready to make amends with dessert.
It's nothing, though I'm the first to admire her chin.
I've written a part for her, but—will she accept it?
Unless, underneath it all, you
understand its meaning and grasp
it's not for you, you're likely
to get caught in surface phenomena,
trying to shelter your ego
from the big explosion about to cross
in front of the screen, and not ready
to explore those other countries
where it might be buried, like Turkey,
or somewhere in the Alps. I'm shocked
you never mentioned me, not even the time
we spent cheek by jowl in the big
walk-in freezer. How coy
the features of your selective memory,
how unspeakable your grand design.
For it's clear that if we all breathe water
we could lead a different life, not
get caught in the big net or fall asleep
at the global conference, bound
for Utah on a redeye and soon Japan.
No, I'm fairly certain her mother
never phoned me, at least not like that,
and her father, last I knew, could
barely speak of her without humming
the theme to The Undefeated while
slapping a saber against his leg in time.
When you have returned these doves to their
trainers, take a break.
©Donald Brown 2010/2013