Moving Words 2004 Poems
Out for a Walk
My feet are as two horses
arching and stretching in the soft restraint
of the sandals, impatient, ardent for any road,
for brown dust or hard clatter
of asphalt. Out go the feet, flexing,
dragging the rangy bones, the parchment
skin, the slack belly and the clenched jaw -
hating the load until they feel
the keen heart and its bright red traces.
Autumn in Arlington Hospital
I missed the leaves falling this year.
I raked the blue mums in my curtains,
kicked my feet free to catch the chill.
The told me, the moon hung heavy
along the horizon across the hall.
I never saw the sun thin into December.
I studied the yellow wallpaper,
bordered with pink embryos.
As the year let go of its color, I held onto you,
and took solace in the shadow of a V swooping south.
It arrives as a train might,
from some unknown place,
rush of car after car.
You are struck still,
feeling the whistle
blow through you
as your hair whips before your eyes,
adrenaline hissing through your veins.
A cat's silence is pervasive as incense as it sits
after dinner by the back door. Soon, a human
is impelled to open the door, hold it wide
while the cat yawns, sniffs the night and decides
he will take a stroll since the door is open,
sure the world and we will wait for his walking.
After dark, we too place ourselves by a door
and go confidently out into sleep with the same
careless assumption: our housing will let us back in
on our return, that the world we know waits for our waking.
I need her the way
gravel shoulders need roads, and clouds
a bit of blue to back them.
Each hour she's gone is a year
without a New Year's party, an eon
without dinosaurs or kings. When she gets back
we'll bake a cake as big as the world and spend
eternity in the icing.
M. A. Schaffner