Winter, 2003

Janet I. Buck


Spools of Thread

Terror seems a diary in history books --
a sea of bugs on someone else's limousine,
so far away it could be different planets now.
As wheels climb higher out of the stifling heat,
a pasture sits -- bales of hay arranged
like simple spools of thread.
From heaven it must look as if
we're certain we can stitch a quilt.
No doubt the deities guffaw.
Soon enough they'll deliver
a slaughtering storm,
knife a tree with only light,
reducing hubris to its crumbs.

For now the sky is glass plate blue --
pine perfume replaces diesels pumping hard.
Ash and smoke around a campfire
flaring with its orange forks
so nonchalant in contrast to
the memories of Nasiriyah's battle hour,
to Baghdad at the boiling point --
anathema to cool lakes
with almost gravy in the mud.
A flock of gulls -- sultans
of a broader world -- a paradise
that fathoms synchronicity
and calls the air itself
a village in this wilderness

Tea Between the Storms

The walls are bright as brand new soap.
I could stay here forever --
my head on your lap; my feet on the couch
in a home that's truly a home.
We speak of pansies and spring
despite the autumn leaves in mulch
around our toes and jaded bones.
Your face has stories in its folds and so I pry:
"What was Mother really like?"
You come alive no differently
than starveling kites possessed
and fierce, riding winds of memory.

"She filled the room with basic joy
and God, we laughed at everything
from dented fenders to crazy stunts
of three-martini painting jobs.
She smiled at a drooping rose."
I rise to heat our chilling cups and wish
the china of his life had fewer cracks
and tables didn't lose their legs.
In many ways, the morning feels
like dragonflies on closing books --
still I flutter eager wings.

At least you have the strength to walk
the tripping paths of reminisce,
admit out loud she always returns in a dream.
I learned to grieve so quietly
that even teardrops can't be wet.
I wish my father had this steel
inside his going spine.
"Where is writing taking you?"
and I reply: "a study crowded
with awards and still no present salary."
I think I hear her bubbled laughter
channeled through your fluid lips.
Chatter, tea, and homemade
cookies in my hands
make bouillon of this heavy rain.