Mudlark Poster No. 84 (2009)

Four Poems by William Reichard

Easter | Sin Eater | Simple Song | Bird as Ghost

William Reichard is a Saint Paul based writer and editor. He is the author of three collections of poems, most recently This Brightness (Mid-List Press, 2007). His next collection, Sin Eater, will be published by Mid-List Press in 2010.


(ending on a line from Apollinaire)
By midday the wind has come
to blow away the promised storm

so I sit in the backyard, watch
bits of yellow pollen collect

on my blue flannel shirt;
it seemed so slight when I picked

it out in the morning’s gray, now
too heavy in the sunlight.

He always called these “progress winds.”
That's what must have blown against us

all of our years together, blew through us
in the end, as if we were paper ghosts.

Today I see his name in the local news.
What progress has he made since we separated?

What progress have I made since I left him?
I've never told all those I should that I love them.

I cannot account for the things I have done.
I praise all those who love me.

Sin Eater

I’d grown fat with it, like most do.
Every day the receptacle of all
that rage, anguish, that madness.
Not everyone is made for listening;
priests, perhaps, in the confessional;
psychologists and their couches;
those like me who feel we 
must stay and take it in.
An ancient Welsh tradition
allows a family to hire a Sin Eater
when a loved one dies.
The Sin Eater comes and devours
the feast the family has placed
around the corpse.
With each morsel of food,
the Sin Eater takes into himself
the missteps of the dead;
when the table is cleared,
the dead one goes to heaven
and the Sin Eater goes mad,
filled as he is with 
someone else’s sorrows.
For months, I feasted at his table.
I’d lost all sense of hunger or satiety.  
My mouth remained open 
and his miseries flew in
bite by bite by bite.
Even now I recognize the effect: 
When I spot a table 
laden with food, 
I back away.

Simple Song

I wish you had stayed
the summer;

afternoons, iridescent;
soft chair in the shade.

Queen of the Prairie.
Queen of the Meadow.

Birch bark curling
away from the trunk.

Some flowers bloom
only in spring,

then disappear under
summer’s tall grasses,

July’s grandiose petals.
It was quiet between us.

It was always like that.
The best gestures, small.

Our words, unspoken.

Bird as Ghost

passage of shadow	
it eats very little
	never invited	
takes its seat on the round feeder’s ring
	small grains drop	
				one	by	one
onto the brilliant blue floor
spring lifts a shawl of feathers
	in time	
		detaches from the others
	takes flight

it never sings
sits on the porch rail	
			feet fine as wire
				grips tan wood
it’s beak, barely visible
what use, a mouth?

Copyright © Mudlark 2009
Mudlark Posters | Home Page