—after R. Hugo
It’s got to be one you’re drawn to–
not any town you’ve known,
not any place you’ve lived.
One you can invent
from fragments you’ve overheard.
Then the words themselves
can drag out sense, wag their fingers,
dig in their heels, point out
the lonely soul
wandering the town’s green outskirts
weaving a dandelion crown ,
sandal straps flapping,
some old tune going through her head,
looking for a dog
who died years ago.
It will have to leave you up to your hips
in mud, thunder down storms
every summer afternoon,
and you’ll not know its secret radiances,
illicit loves, flashes of brilliance
freighting the winter air—how your father
carried your mother upside down,
both laughing, says your friend;
how someone else’s father
went to the woods to end his life,
how a third, fourth, fifth
designed the weapon parts,
how life went on, the football team won,
you learned to sell popcorn.
Robin Chapman’s newest book is the eelgrass meadow (Tebot Bach). Her poems have appeared recently in Alaska Quarterly Review, Nimrod, Prairie Schooner, and Wilderness. She is recipient of the 2010 Appalachia Poetry Prize.