The Present Gives Up Some Past
She can’t shake it: This hour picked out like a dress
that fits her and she looks nice in it or even very
nice as her husband might say. She’s troweling
out a hole, digging into comfort soil for roots–
the lilies she found growing in a ditch.
She drove back with a spade for this bunch.
The yard’s mapped-out directions tuck traffic
noise away–the vehicular and emotional.
The lilies’ yellow, a choice color, is a real flourish,
as is her cat’s sudden appearance from somewhere–
the locust or scaly apple tree, the purple maple,
the three elms, green-bearded lords at the border
to the neighbor’s apple orchard. The cat’s fur,
the leaves, warm, lit by sun light’s blur.
Sounds rolling out the patio door: grocery sacks
rustling in the kitchen. Her husband. Imagine!
She had a husband then, and he’s returned.
Anybody home? His former German accent barely
detectable. Just wondering where everybody is.
The cat’s already racing up the deck steps. The woman
pats the soil down around the lilies and waters them.
Satisfied, she slaps loose soil from her hands and
joins her two everybody-home-agains in the kitchen.
Five x Five Equals Two-Five
When we’re lonely we may feel peculiarly
close to odd details, old details going
way back to the Goths who lost fingers
left and right whetting their axes
or butchering wild boars that bit
off the bird-finger, doomed to spend
the rest of its days apart from the hand.
Which is always at its most handsome
with all digits accounted for. Was it too
much to expect to keep two fives, even
in hardscrabble times?
now–the Goth word for “five” was finf,
halfway between fünf and five as in toes,
or where Galileo deduced a system’s number
of moons and comets. In addition he had three
children. His bastard son married into money,
the two daughters died young in a convent.
Their mother, the housekeeper, married.
From five down to two: Galileo the odd
man out with his telescope. Under a welter
of suns maybe he was the homeless one.
For her, a dinner–
lobster on a platter.
Out there, the harbor,
little boats skirt the bar.
She of the daily planner,
the yellow highlighter,
the eye upon the hour,
relaxes in her chair.
She the runner, earlier
the jogger along the shore,
its gray sand softer
than pavers, like wet powder
underfoot. She the outsider
taking on the air
of a beachfront insider,
finding in the sea desire.
Oh yes, the darker, fuller
heart beats faster, her
heart like the weather,
her lips warmed by butter.