V  P  R

Contemporary Poetry and Poetics




                        —after a line by Marianne Boruch

            for Summer

Easier to imagine old men into infants, sand
back into stone.  Take the elderly gent
in the churchyard with his gimpy leg and bald pate,

the pink scabs where the doctor froze the cancer
with the lovely name: carcinoma.
Imagine him rolling on his back, filled with glee

as his mother changes his diaper, the delicious trill
as she nudges his belly with her quick blonde hair.
And that fellow pressing his cart in front of mine

at the checkout, his paunch preceding him
by a foot or so.  In his teens, an athlete, agile
on the court, the muscles in his arms tensed,

the seductive roll of his shoulders
as he stands on the foul line to pass the ball.
Or the young man within my skin-and-bones brother-in-law.

Hug him and remember the depth of his chest,
as always the warm surround of his arms.
He is not the wraith who totters to his feet

to say goodbye to his neighbor, a gentleman
to the end.  Sand back into stone I would will
the fleshing out of his legs and arms, his face:

the skin so taut after weeks of radiation, months
of nausea.  I can see his soul looking straight at me
through eyes that have already seen the angel's hand

beckoning him back, back to shore.


© by Claire Keyes


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