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Prairie Schooner 79.4 (2005) 106-109
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One Morning in Ohio, and: Cover of Darkness, and: Summer Dusk, Valentine, Nebraska, and: Out of the Doldrums
One Morning in OhioBlack berries (whose name I did not know)
on a bush bereft of leaves;
a frozen crocus like a small crushed butterfly;
last year's matted grass in swales;
the rusted sideyard pump with outflung handle; [End Page 106]
a pile of broken ditchtiles
beneath the peeling paint of the garage;
the hard ground lumpy as we walked slowly by.
And in the afternoon, a nap
under the coverlet in the small back room;
reading Seifert while stretched out on the bed;
a flock of geese gone squawking overhead;
and as we left the house, a crescent moon
perfectly outlined in the evening blue.
Cover of DarknessThree sisters, with the ashes of the fourth,
drove out into the country after dark,
the plastic bag inside its cardboard box
not buckled in on one side of the seat.
They turned in at the entrance to the park,
drove for a mile or so, and dowsed the lights.
The lid came lightly up, and lifting out
the bag that had the density of sand
but sifted like fine flour as it swung
light-heavily beside the carrier,
they crossed a swale, stepped over a strand of wire,
and waded up a slope of grass and weeds,
emerging on the golf course where a tee
confronted lesser golfers with a pond.
They had a flashlight, but its cold beam made
only a narrow aisle that blinded them
to everything around; they turned it off
for an approaching car, then left it off. [End Page 107]
And each one, with a butter dish as scoop,
reached in to do her part in honoring
the sister's wish. The light wind trailed away
each shake of ashes like a swirl of smoke.
Soon they were in the cottonwoods that rose
beside the pond, the leaves wind-shivering.
By now they were spread out and little more
than voices to each other in the dark,
but never closer than in this final act
of sisterly devotion. Met again,
they stood in silence as the fireflies
drifted and surged along the water's edge,
the small light lapping on the ripples there
like shuttered lanterns, and a time or two
were on the verge of speaking when one flared,
soared unseen beyond them in the air,
and scarred the darkness high above their heads.
Summer Dusk, Valentine, NebraskaCumulus, stratocumulus, cirrostratocumulus –
whatever it was rose towering in the east,
catching the last light gold-white to its sides,
aboil with movement, shirred and teased like a fleece
at its northern edge, a wisp of thin gray clouds
below it there, silently drifting by:
and Chris, with his camera, sprinting across the road
for a fuller view, kneeling to snap three shots
that went to make this panorama, oh impossibly
gold-over-white, the trees a dark near blur: heading back, [End Page 108]
that final shot of the cloud, gold-white and aboil
between two tall dark pines,
and a bush leaping up in the flash,
a blue-green lightning, in the foreground.
Out of the DoldrumsAt five o'clock, the August afternoon
urges that all restraint be cast aside.
I choose a ripe tomato that will soon
be sliced to do its part and help provide
the blts that you will make for dinner
and, having picked it, carry it inside.
You've set the hose's arc of spray, spinner
of bright water, the drops flung far and wide,
and now our swim-trunked grandson's running through it,
his gestures silvery as if a tide
enveloped him as he came running to it
and the crashing foam were turning him aside.
His squeals and laughter, lifted in the air,
drift down like music on the willing ear.