Barbara Schweitzer >
Each morning still exhales the breath of newborn day, like some soft feathered thing or like some mossy mewer, head in dawn’s red-breasted spread, wings opening to bequest golden hours on us motley recombinants who hotly weave our minutes into small deaths. Minute fragments overcoming inertia: this must be the view from the stars so intent on blue and speed they wouldn’t need plumbing any depths beyond their own crumbling matters and wouldn’t bend askew to wonder, in fact, would eschew any philosophies of stumblings. Why would anyone use their time tapping out wooden words as if they were facts that let us outbid disaster by their making. Find a swath that has opened its lime legs to the mouths that have praised it. It’s plundering feet that laid it. Word don’t make. They mime. It’s weary-making for our eyes, this constant scrutiny of days, keeping diaries that betray odd moments soon as the ink dries, staring into peachy-mooned skies imagining a plethora of ways to write a lover who stays between the lines.
Soap Opera Sonnet 31 1. For want of a wife He’ll become no geography, float free, unhitched, unmoored, unburdened, smartened, he’d flee now if it weren’t for the slowed-down heart stream- lined by affection still. He’s parried the pain already. He needn’t rush. Rest would be refreshing after festooning all those yellow ribbons for so long; nests are made for robbing, so says the cuckoo – or was that the cuckold? Whatever! he’ll do now whatever he wants to do, no wart- hog-tied marriage to stop him now, so few go west anymore, let her go. He’ll depart as soon as he moves out of these doldrums. Life has to be more than this beat of humdrums.
2. Seeking efficiency She caught him with dandelions sticking out his mouth, his nose turned up at Kentucky blue grass, tulips, and freshly mulched ground. He wanted what he wanted, rousting weeds, taking them down neat, quick; wild things have no manners but efficiency, no wasted motion – like death should be. She had to know which kind used up the least resources to make a decision. She’d seen a squirrel fresh dead on the road, by her calculations too much horsepower was used and gas, guessed starvation was best for conservation. She smiled to think of her affinity to the groundhog and his efficiency.
3. Feeding fish It was not for want of money – she had means. It was not for love of danger – she’d been to Mexico, was scared by the color scheme. It was some driven thing in her, so thinned by her life, shaved and matted down, mistakes cut out of picture albums as if gone when they were thrown away. For the sake of her children she did everything. Long ago she’d turned to dust, mere motes in air floating to the fate of breezes. They didn’t see her in the same way you breathe without care just knowing air is there. No reason really. She just up and walked into the ocean, seagulls overhead, ospreys, pelicans.
No new tricks What else Barbie remembered: wild mushrooms they picked off the golf course, thick steaks grilled out, a long table stretching to the living room, Pudgy the dog, being made a fuss about, left to play “war” with the adopted son, and while Curtie and Barbie watched TV he took Barbie’s hand where his pants were undone. Then he didn’t baby sit but lay on her; she didn’t want to hurt his feelings by telling on him, so kept it a secret for all time. Her dad liked Ronnie’s father, the colonel, and the colonel liked Dad, and, never mind, she knew not to take their happiness down. Later, Ronnie would bring them grief anyhow.
The red rider That pain does not die but takes its place on a shelf that might not be dusted for many years at a time, something gray and mysterious like a jack-in-the-box rusted closed, pried open to wave the ludicrous head of a clown. The physical pain counted for nothing, little jacks without a ball, but the women nodding over her, mounted against her explanation, her veed legs pulled, twisted, her private self pinned open by their hands on her knees, her cousin begging to be let in to see her, too, her mother’s chin sharp against the ceiling: why is she bleeding? The wagon cut her, but they prevented healing.
Swimming Why would a child leave fear so untold? Years unfolding and her hands would still shake as she recalled the day she lost her foothold and fell into the storm drain, was swept and raked over the limbs then spit out on the bank. Her Timex stopped, clouding like her panic the register of time, and once two boys yanked her from a riptide and she never knew if she thanked them enough for saving her life and, more important, saving her friend’s parents the misery of telling her own she died. She searches for the child who in the end never unswallowed; how she battened down the tellings of these invitations to drown!