I suppose the locust tree
garners some sympathy;
its limb, a mangled arm,
twisted and broken by a storm,
a brutish husband,
now two years past, leans
heavily upon, overwhelms
its neighbour, the wild cherry.
Such an imposition!
Is the limb gradually crushing
the cherry on one side,
an inadvertent torture,
or did the cherry always tilt
at that angle? I don’t recall.
Shall I climb precariously,
with my ladder and saw,
risk a broken bone,
to set matters right?
The wild cherry remains green,
pliant, sap coursing its length.
Tiny cherries, more seed
than fruit, still arrive on time,
every summer its blue-black
violet just as tart, eliciting
winces and puckers – bitter
feasts for birds, unfit for pies.
I suppose, a callous outlook,
eventually, the dead limb,
increasingly brittle and splintered,
will snap and crash on its own.
In time, I shall attend to that
inevitable aftermath. For now,
we’ll witness the locust’s plight.
The wild cherry and I are patient.
Yesterday, along the ditch,
Indifferent to gawkers,
I was obviously a raccoon
Of leisure, languorously
Reclining on one side,
Napping and reflecting
On my dissipation,
My peculiar situation,
No need to catch or gather
Crawfish or berries just yet.
Yesterday, everything in place,
Eyes, stomach, liver,
I tried to recall the blur,
The colour of the car with
The shiny chrome grill.
Today, I’m splayed
On my back, paws wide,
Too long in the sun,
Bloated, ready to pop,
But with so many new,
Dear worms, dear bugs,
And the vultures are here
To play, tickling my belly.
They’re much too much.
The girl, a novice pipefitter, who drove a pickup, shunned
high heels, and attempted to correct her grammar (but not
so much as the effort seemed an unnecessary annoyance)
was acquainted with exceedingly rectilinear Russians, Malevich,
Tatlin, Gabo, and the German Dada Schwitters who proclaimed
to Richter in a café, ‘I am an artist and I nail my pictures together.’
She and I hung her painting, her tryst with Constructivism,
her colours crisp and potent like green, yellow and red
peppers at the end of summer. And in our task, incidentally,
innocuously, I brushed her arm,
the underside of her limb, her antithesis of assemblage,
that downy, tender place, her curve, still vulnerably
feminine between the hinges of elbow and wrist, where grit
and sun often missed. Oh my!
I was unprepared for this, galvanic infatuation. Circumspection
useless, I could not account for the impulse, the current greater than
fondness – but the years, the years, the vast, sobering distance
was my regret. I’ll relish a few more harmless flirtations with
time, the linear parameters of age. If only I were a young man,
again a handsome bohemian, and touched her arm just so
some thirty years ago.