I guess I shouldn’t let April pass without posting a poem. This is from my chapbook How Time Got Away (Pudding House Publications, (c)2005). The night I’m writing about something that happened over 30 years ago.
Spring again, a sadness to swear by.
Lamplight filters through the shadow
of a neighbor’s death. In a back bedroom,
my father, cricket caught in a skeleton’s ribs,
sings “Old Ninety-Seven”
softly to himself. The breeze hooks
the melody like a mail sack,
slow train style. The breeze is antic,
doing spooky things to the front room curtains.
I sing, too. I sing this warm evening,
front porch and rocking chair. No one
has rocked me for years, but tonight
I cradle myself, humming
the flannel lullabies.
Beside the porch rail, the lilac
My voice tests the night as quietly.
In an upstairs window
of the dead neighbor’s house,
a slip-clad figure pauses and springs.
The gauzy after-image
is eerie, more ghostly than an appearance
by the deceased himself.
Someone lowers the shade as tenderly
as the lid over a blank eye.
My father and I fall mute, tunes
collapsing in our throats like parachutes,
splendid billows of rapture
thinning to silk and cord.