Poetry | wisconsinacademy.org
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         I am lazing around, sharing my attic roomwith Cincinnati’s swelter and three more booksfrom the library—Girl of the Limberlost, Jo’s Boys,Dr. Doolittle—when the church bells begin to ring

One would expect gracklesor crows, purple necks stretched outin the backstreet gloom, flutteringfrom dumpster to chain-link fence.

In what seems another lifetime,I drove a bus for Greyhound.Riders weren’t allowed to talk to the driver,and I couldn’t talk to them—company rules—and I wasn’t allowed to look at a map,

tires screech; mother sleepsblood seeps from my forehead gashbroken windshield glassthen blue and red lights flashacross my mother who can’t walk the lineslap on the cuffs; clipped wings of a dove

          —Hyogo-ken, June 1991

I see youTrying to snip yourselfFree from the clash of fabric patternsOutsize the outline of your fierceand stunning soulCoast be not oceanEdge be not your end

Peer into the satchel of fabricsPlush and darkSoft and unforgiving,Hand to hand, pass stitched and muffled suffering

the day before they found her baby tuckedinto that crawlspace for safekeeping,i sat on the kitchen floor in front of her,just two houses down from my own,knobbed bones of her knees dimpling my back

My brother’s buying some late night drive-thru tacosfinds an empty parking lottakes two bites and starts to choke on his tearsthrows the meat and shells onto cracked concrete.

We dig our father’s grave with a post hole digger.My younger brother jabs the double blade into the dark soil.Across the creek, coyotes yowl to the dusk.We’re not used to hearing them.

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Phone: 608.733.6633


James Watrous Gallery of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters
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Madison, WI 53703
Phone: 608.733.6633 x25