Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Ash Wednesday

Tonight's furious celibate weather --
a long awaited downpour --
frees slugs and earthworms,
lubricated their pathways
and destinations. Streams
sizzle and swell. Someone
is thinking of you without
being aware of it.
He starts up from bed
as if awakened by sirens
or an explosion -- but these
are only echoes of sounds
the walls sucked up long ago,
now loosened by lightning.
The wind's blowing the wrong
direction. Rain has made
the air smell ike soggy
cardboard and fermented plums.
He listens to the rain drum
and imagines his house washed
from its foundation,

borne like a clumsy boat
through surging floodwaters.
He pictures himself straddling
its pitched roof, rushed north
by the storm, floating for days
wrapped in blankets, holding
a kerosene lamp. Neighbors bob by
and wave. The pleasures of love
are lost on this man. A few
suits in the back of his closet
are so covered with moths
the furry white insects
look like a fabric design.
He finds love full of frustration
and change, a bumpy ride,
not the ideal accord he's been
led to expect. Dozing again,
he dreams all his teeth are loose.
You appear in this dream,
a troublesome image,
walking his dog while having
a good cry, trying to wipe
your nose on the leash. Then
the scene shifts to his family farm
where they make Roquefort cheese --
it's iris-picking time.

Fruit you'd given him when
the two of you were still
speaking sits in a blue bowl
on the nightstand as he snores:
four huge oranges, a red pear,
purple, marble-sized grapes.
He dreams his watch is embedded
in his wrist. Ice forms
on the lettuce in your dark
garden. There's a certain wild
sadness inherent in this season.
The never-said gathers momentum,
like coming thunder. You cannot
have his precious attention.
No fever will break, no peace
be declared. The time is ripe
to walk out, soul intact,
onto the balcony in your nightgown,
get wet and soak up the thrilling
silence... but you're not ready yet.

Amy Gerstler

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