A KIND OF PURPLE

Huband Bridge

 

In a new pair of trail shoes, khaki

cargo shorts, and a white

crewneck adorned with black

lines that cross over one another

in a pattern not unlike the wet

marks a child’s finger will make

upon the thawing frost of a car

window, he veers from his path,

toward the canal’s steep bank, camera

in hand as he chases down

a seagull, of all things.

 

What he wants from all this

is anyone’s guess. Probably just

a picture: the bird

a placeholder for something

he still can’t name. See

the flowers that separate him

from the water? Hopeful yellow

somethings, tedious in the afternoon’s

dull light. Sprigs of preserved

lace, funereal and fragile. They mope

in the mud while the gull, feigning

flightlessness, steps past them.

 

Only after the man drops his camera

to the length of its strap, lets it lean

his body forward slightly, like

a millstone cut for beginners,

and takes up toward the docks,

will the rest of us,

birds and bench-sitters alike,

relax for long enough to feel

how the air has shifted in this poem.

 

Something that is not a tight

cluster of lilac blossoms—but

still, so like those that grew

from the slender bone structure

of a tree my father planted

in his front yard the spring

after he lost his eldest daughter—

drop their heads, bowing

to the pressure of their own

elaborate weight.

 

 

Caleb Curtiss has had poems appear in New England Review, Gettysburg Review, and Southern Review, and essays in The Rupture, Ninth Letter, and Denver Quarterly.

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