I JUST HAVE TO GET THROUGH THIS
Summer stayed no longer than a sparrow.
Medication is passed over a trembling lip.
The postcard arrives one day too late.
A man notes he’ll get an Asian hooker if
he’s dying, maybe if he isn’t. A spider
in the woodpile ends up in the fire.
One beggar spits in the air at another.
The field of sunflowers holds on as long
as it can, but dies before the gentle old lady
passes on the train. Babies are placed
in planes and carried to cars. A good man
is murdered in his house. They leave
his body, pass his son on the lawn, reach
out to ruffle his hair, and he watches them go.
For some reason we all wait for something.
NOTES ON A SMALL WORLD
No part of either army mourns, refuses to move
for political reasons. Field clear and level,
each pawn moves straight. Forward, armed
with a spade, that’s all. The bishop is cruelest.
Nobody knows why he asks to be served
those he slays with chutney. Nobody knows
he dreams of being handed his own severed head.
The knight has an odd but loyal compass, puts up
with the rook, his raucous affairs in the off-hours,
so frequently heard by the king, part dragon
but shifty and slow out of need to feel his aromatic
movement in silk. It’s all about breeding, instinct.
There’s no difference in resources between armies.
Reincarnation is a fact, but they get only one try
at this before beginning again. It is the queen who
works hardest, pregnant only with celestial concerns,
lands with both feet on an opponent, thinks ahead
to a summer of peace and freedom: a straw hat,
yellow dress. Little does she know, it’s game over.
Mothers die and return as spiders, to stamp
every part of your home – the living room wall,
bathroom sink – with tenuous hope, defying
gravity to check on you in the days and months
after a funeral, they are found on shower curtains,
are knocked off and kicked down the drain, or
they try again and again just to get to you,
moving over shiny summer lawns, concrete
and guano, picked off by blackbirds, some
get as far as a window, self-hired in the humidity
to watch a while beneath cumulus and a sky
that’s loaded with rain and eyeing the land.
For a moment that bacchanal, finally quiet man,
pear-shaped, asleep on a park bench, clinging
lightly to a book, comes near a truth on the swell
of a dream: remembers the lady in the shop
by the school, encouraging a banana over chocolate,
friendly to all the kids, her fan pushing back
at fat heat, humming like an old lighthouse.
She went into hospital for a too big heart, and all
were smart enough to see the irony, but he’d dismiss
as drunkenness the idea of noble spiders, or her
nearly invisible in a room, relishing legs and legs,
the protein strands of silk, the secondary eyes.