Monday, November 14, 2011

And the world, fulgent & resolute, clicks on

I have not been making anything lately, so I'll offer you an intermission in the form of this poem, written by Aleda Shirley who taught at my college.

Song of the Abducted

The trees are full of owls. At night thousands
of them stare at me through the sunroom windows.
The phone rings; it is my dead friend, calling
from Boston. She talks & talks,
but I can get nothing out, I am choking

on questions. The owls' heads move so quickly
they do not seem to move. It started
when I was a child: late one night my father
stopped the car at a roadside park & dozed,
a silver thermos of coffee in his lap. I slept too,

in the back, & woke to a deer looking
in the window, its nose pressed against the glass,
eyes huge & glossy. The next thing I knew
it was morning & we were driving over the bridge
into Memphis. Later from a hotel room

I saw helicopters a few feet from the window,
but there was no noise. At night
everyone comes back to me eventually,
this one I loved & that one.
The air grows sharp as copper & there's

a beautiful green light that deepens
like water; I move through it slowly
but it is not wet & I never surface, no matter
how hard I kick my legs. Inside myself
I am several hours behind myself. From one summer

I recall flowers: sunflowers peering like faces
over a fence, knotted peonies fallen on the lawn.
For months, after I fell in love, I couldn't sleep
until dawn: nothing wedged itself between me
& the darkness. But passion dimmed to an ashy

smudge on the mirror & through the fanlight
I saw a collar of dead stars. The rumors you've heard
are true: behind danger lurks danger. Down
the street a house is on fire. Red light courses
through the room & I feel smoke like sticky oil

on my arms, the warm spot where the cat
was sleeping. When I come to I am peering
into the blue face of the television.
There is snow & in the snow a hint of static,
something cold & shifty I cannot turn off.

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