From the skinny brown arcs
of ballerinas rooted
in a coltish breeze,
the first brittle leaves drift
limply to still-summer ground,
yellow earthbound stars
five-pointed like fingers
whose reach is destined to be crushed.
there is a silence
that holds underneath the constant hum
of voices, engines, bike treads;
the same we came here seeking
so many years ago. tiny clam shells
scattered among gravel tell how far
the sea has come, calling
to mind a beach road
i saw once, where a black man
in an old truck rode north
with one arm out the window,
the bed full of rusted chains,
whole oil drums full. like the shadow
of the hawk gliding hugely over the rooftops
that bank the park, i want it
to mean something, to be more
than soundless commentary:
a blessing. a washing clean.
the shallow wading pool of past, its pink
mermaid-clad collapsible sides filled
with dead grapevine Mom wrestled
from the cage-wire fence & sunk
in its bathwater depths to be made more
pliant for the working. Once I buried
a burn there, dip’t surreptitiously
from a showoff jump on Old Miss Judy’s
just-rid bike, my shiny white shin in stark
relief to the gap-black teeth of her red-
haired grandson. I remember, too, the stains
of walnuts that fell like dull tennis balls
all around the pool’s pressed grass;
a quarter a bucket all Indian summer long
while Mom cut & shaped & dried
under the shade of the bitter leaves.
I keep one of those wreaths cornered
in the utility closet under winter coats,
still, dusting its thick ribbon & fluffing
up the bow after every first frost has passed.
remember when it was more than this.
remember the hiss of snow on the lake,
the feel of fire in its place.
remember the forgetting.
remember what truth was, its high-flung pain.
remember the next night.
remember the taste of never,
the perfection of a kiss in the sun.
remember the last time you felt safe.
remember that you are more than (t)his.
remember the dregs and the puddles.
remember these words: concave, blue, gravel, catatonic.
remember the walk barefoot, cobbled in rain.
remember the screams.
remember the hand that picked you back up.
remember how it ended, and where it began.
remember that which it is needful to remember,
the song you never meant to hear.
remember that dreams, too, are sometimes prophetic.