These nights we awaken tinged from a place
staining words, the camellias nodding their
scarlet heads outside the window, azaleas
straining their stick souls to the limit of darkness,
faint purple seen beyond closed eyelids, past habits
of attachment, as if we clung to color to change
what we were. The word for ice spelling out
our years in Syracuse, when gray shards hung
from a church gable, our daughter just beginning
to talk, flattening her a’s in the back of our
old Chevy, crying that winter when timber
wolves sniffed her through the wire fence at the zoo.
Seen within that sky, we were bone against bone,
already reaching our hands toward a seeded future,
beyond the 14th tee, something flowering in our grasp,
a ghostly botany our bodies now emulate, so that
years and the distance traveled behind us become
a Doppler pursuit, whatever we might have been
or now will be closing upon us in blue robes of
acceptance. Think how many years ago I was the
gray of sickly elms on a busy Queens avenue,
before I dreamed of your wet thighs sparkling
on the float in the middle of Lake Peekskill.
A life like porcelain held to the mirroring sky.
Just as this morning, the slow flap of ibises allows
them to halt almost mid-air, above the pond,
the live oaks less gnarled, more horizontal
to a need, never achieving it, against the dawn
that we are part of in this rising and rising.

John Allman | Mudlark No. 31
Contents | Leaving Home 2000