Those in cahoots shed souvenirs
piled in bulk, ready to be packed up,
shipped to a new address. Is she
driving cross-country, taking a swim
in every state? No one knows,
but we concede that a spade
tattooed where all can see
bespeaks a sly gesture aimed
to subdue the elements
when you see what becomes of youth,
pilled or not, probed, texted, shot
from a cannon. Let's all process
close-ups, flaring nostrils, let's all say
we held our breath at natural beauty,
those plantings, harvestings, mountains,
falls, rivers, long hikes up the trail,
and when we returned always found
a country inn or stone cottage, door
ajar, windows unlatched, chimney smoking.
I'm not insisting there was only cinema
and city streets, only cab rides, trains,
and architecture, and buzzing panels
where invited speakers aired opinions
then recoiled in private, or coughed.
Were you ever convicted for minimal fines?
Let's repeat what we've learned so far,
leave a lamp trimmed, a bowl
of chilled water, a folded towel.
Sing, I hear you.
There's a hole inside me, gaping,
aged and waiting. So clear now
why all that happened had to drop
into lakes of unbroken calm,
had to inspire abuse and contention,
because we've been relinquishing this vision
since birth because we've aimed higher
because we sampled the goods and found them
meet because you are forgetting me
because the imp in the chamber spins
and flattens before and after because scotch
warms and burns and absinthe quells
because a riot of colors is my mind, dear wife,
and anyone for tea because rocky coasts
of Maine, autumn light, fresh apples
broken wrists, a locus poenitentiae, nearly
near the lake,
a staggered soul, a collapse and a joke,
hours stolen from everyday demands,
fresh red peppers roasted in sesame oil.
I'm glad there's time to summarize tastes
and itemize our knowledge, time
to empty the bucket of its grassy water
and lay upon the earth, spine in loam,
all the heaving clouds like breath above.
Recall the speech vouchsafed her.
Speak it, Lucy—aim at the sun.
©Donald Brown 2010/2013