June 1, late evening
As if the shock of the new
could be your undoing, she’s
Grace Kelly reborn in white,
and all these tatterdemalions,
what of them, taking up space
in a coffee shop or on streets
just after a rain or before.
When the sky opened up
we were at home with the baby,
napping, as lightning whitened
the air, and those liquid curtains
descended with a rush
as if every expectant theater-goer
exhaled at once. All crack
and doom, and we unready
as vague dicers at what had chanced,
but stalwart enough for a forest,
an island, a battle of toy soldiers.
If all you talk is trash,
save some for me, I won't
leave without it for then I'll know
I've admitted to every crime,
uttered every coarse rebuttal
to the official muddle.
How could you?
And why wouldn't you?
And who's it for?
These squabbles in small print
amount to frosty greetings
by the graveside with the chosen one
still nearby but not yet taken.
In the songs we sing of your glory,
I always see you higher than the rest,
floodlit, testing the air
for your wingspan, Golden Boy.
Beholden to slack apprentices,
bohemians without the price
of happy endings, we adjust the view
or the viewer, in either case
a specialty of the house, consigned,
like all our best, most rebarbative
salutes, to whoever needs it most,
howsoever. Should we
light it? Is this seat taken?
I've glimpsed wherever I go
a shadow of her, that one empty
as the eye of a hurricane, ready
as a jockey in the saddle, steady
as the sealant on the new windows.
Glance twice her way to make sure
she's staying, that veiled one,
that dear heart in black and blue
or green, shoulders rolling past
the gathering in the clearing
where the townsfolk dicker and yawn,
her lips a royal red, fingers splayed.
It's not for want of trying
that all the best athletes find themselves
darkly unattended, as collateral
stakes are upped, barked, awarded.
Would she take the tribute, know its aim?
The grounds are appallingly quaint
and there we'll gather to display
our swords, and our wounds, and our
best vintage. The pride of our host
insists we all return to the launchpad,
begin again with origins evened,
and then end with identical outcomes.
The vision captured in these paintings
smacks of tyrants blessing pilgrims
and wives gone missing in their own homes,
of children larking in tide pools, dogs
beating the trail for the wily pheasant,
neighbors shucking oysters to eat them
raw and briny, onlookers eager to pose
for any camera near them. And so it was.
The call of the owl abides,
and the tar sands can't return what's been wasted.
I wanted you to see how near we are
to the edge of mourning, how swift
will be this day's deflation,
and all we purposed like notes
in someone else's hand, a walk
through meadows freshly mowed,
a proverb inscribed upon a pin,
an apple on the floor in a white room.
©Donald Brown 2010/2013