Volume 65, 2020 Selected Poets and Poems
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Late geese fly and call to their flock mates.
The sky and snow are one white,
one cold, one field.
Across my sight, a ghostly cat pads a straight line.
Stopping, it meets my eyes, is still, so still,
and the snow seems to pass through it.
It lowers its face then marches on in the cold
to a place only it knows.
If I wrote to you now, it would be no different
than a letter to that small house down by the park.
You know, the stucco cube with two dormers
built when the lake was an absentminded creek.
Now the house is empty. The reflected water
and honking of geese still bounce off its windows.
That old couple, who drove matching white cars
with Republican stickers, has moved out.
For days trucks jammed the driveway,
a dumpster sank into the muddy lawn,
heavy with smooth worn cabinets, well-walked
flooring, anything they could tear loose.
If the wife wrote a letter to the house,
she would see the salt and pepper still resting
on the table, her husband’s latest issue
of TIME waiting on his recliner.
As I write to you now, I see you coming home
to stay and me showing you off as the prize
I won on your birthday. Write to me now,
my soldier son, tell me what you see.
The first place they appeared was the oak tree
foraging the acorns not yet fallen to the ground.
Next they were in the crooks of the splay-armed
tulip poplar and finally grunting in the pines
with voices like asthmatic snorers.
I stared, the wind tugging at my jacket
belief as rusted as the Chevy I climbed into.
No seraphim, their bodies were their bodies,
cumbersome, heavy-jowled, moving not like swifts
but ill at ease in the air
like the fantails and tumblers of childhood.
When the edges of my windshield
cropped them from the ordinary
I sat a full minute.
The ignition started on the first turn of the key.
Sun bleached thunderheads
high above a Starbucks
parking lot, overlapping
cumulus fingers that feather
a small blue gap of sky
that isn’t blue and isn’t sky
but endless emptiness.
And the clouds aren’t clouds
just fine water droplets and particles of ice.
Against the sky, weaving through the clouds
a silent airplane
is speeding west, ascending.
The plane is what it looks like it is.
And about now, a beautiful
woman, who’s on a quest
is aboard a plane speeding west,
maybe this plane,
and she is what she seems to be:
braving the headwinds
mysterious and true.