Friday the 13th
When I woke before dawn she was kneeling by the bed
Pale face so close to mine I could sense
The dark strands of her hair framing features
I couldn’t see clearly, only a glowing visage,
Undeclared intentions. Behind her, faces rose
Like in a vast auditorium. Two empty chairs
Just beyond her shoulder. She faded into things
Across the room, bin of clothes on cedar chest.
I got dressed and wondered who else was missing.
At half past six the grocer in the dimly lit produce
Section told me to “have a good night.” He was
Looking ahead, maybe, already beyond breakfast
Or trying to hold the night in place with a pyramid
Of bananas. I got the last raspberries and left.
One day won’t be my lucky day. I picked the paper
From the yard and threw it toward the porch.
It landed in a bush and I almost left it there.
The news can’t be as bad as if I weren’t around
To read it. Still, I’m frightened by that second empty seat.
Thursday the 12th
Who stood there for so long
Between the road and the paved walkway
On the unmown grass as each child streamed by?
At ease, or mostly, for the prints are deep, and a casual
Shoulder width apart. Long there he stood, and not prepared
To run; yet the edges slur the grass as if he shifted
Weight from foot to foot, contained energy reined
By watchfulness. So he stood guard.
In the far corner of the school field
While morning did undizzy circles
in children’s shoes, each trip around
that gear of laughter pulleying the sun a few
Minutes higher up the year’s first flawless sky.
Wednesday the 11th
The small city’s skyline is low-slung
Like tired dogs. A TV antenna, decades
Unused and tilted from last century’s
Storms — that could be my silhouette
Against the quiet valley gloaming —
Left out like a boy raising his hand
In a classroom emptying of light.
Tuesday the 10th
A spring day as unsatisfying
As seeing the reflection
Of your math teacher
In the ice cream shop window.
Walking uphill to work
With two cups of coffee
Neither of which you
Can drink from because
Rain returning to the creek
Has undermined loose sidewalk
Bricks and because
You can’t remember
Which cup was yours.
Monday the 9th
For the entire duration of your time in this shape
With the ease of falling
To be stopped a fraction of a second before
Fall’s finality — caught in a gesture going
The other way, like
Some make a trip to a place to forget it all
And take pictures to remember the trip
Sunday the 8th
The way the weather ends
And begins a discussion
About everything surviving
The weather. The way
Unexpected snow falls
Like a silhouette of spring
Sitting patiently as we trace
Its shadow. The way the sun
Arcs like a baseball hit so far
It will land in the last parking lot
Ever, bounce off the hood
Of the car of the only person
Who stayed for the whole
Game. The way the car’s
alarm, like any true alarm
Will be silent. The way we
Keep score as if it all
Won’t be gone soon enough.
Saturday the 7th
All the ghosts of the dogs
Afraid of thunder hide
Under the bed. The bed
Is not on a frame, two
Thick box springs on the
Floor simply shoulder
the mattress like Atlas,
or Sisyphus maybe:
Every night they roll us up
The hill of sleep and every
Morning we wake and crush
Hours of dreams into oblivion.
Underneath even that there’s plenty
Of room for the terror of loyalty.
I’d like to think the dog
Ghosts are what
Wake us up. They are more
Important than dreams
And they are afraid even when
There is no thunder, like today
There was spring snow, so light
That after hours it had barely frosted
The twiggy ground cover still waiting
For leaves. Under the box springs
The dogs shiver. The snowflake
Shatters like glass. Something left
Outside in the storm moans like
It is not the wind, after all.
It’s after cats but before owls.
The moon fills its pockets and hangs
Out behind the house next door.
Like the sky’s a comfortable side street
You can ride a skateboard or bike along
And find a new favorite skipping stone
You’ll hold onto until the next time
At the creek, which will be days from now
And you think of the curve of her shoulder
As she threw and the water was too
Respectful to swallow the stone, the
Three steps it took on the water and the click
Of it coming to rest on the other bank
And like that you’re rising, full of someone
Else’s light, up above the neighborhood
And the whole world can see you now,
Like the sun on her shoulder,
The whole world can see.