V  P  R

Contemporary Poetry and Poetics




Against a sky the shade of skin on a dog
        stiff beside the road where fathers go
                to work, jostling, fierce, hurried

looks on faces once turned to for love,
        I see the return that’s first this Spring
                as, almost, it always is, the trash tree,

ailanthus, trunk sloshed with salt to melt
        winter snows, bumper-nicked, or worse,
                evidence of the unknown we hear about

from those listening with grimaces,
        leaning at windows as if to speak.
                Today they vanish, beyond a green

season’s embrace we see taking a walk,
        or hide behind a ragged one that shades
                what days bring in a gouging flash.

Do they marvel to see its return, forget
        how in cold to come its leaves, bruised,
                then crusted, will be the last fallen,

 clots we’ll have to scrape, rake, burn, bag,
         clearing the horizon of what we always
                knew and hadn’t will to confront or

change? Familiar, if not friend, delicate
        topped gold wisps, shuddery whistler
                in morning’s breeze, no sign now

something’s bad inside, foul parts coming
        down, little heaps of rubbish to be kicked
                aside, walkers going by without care.

© by Dave Smith


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