V  P  R

Contemporary Poetry and Poetics





Sleet clicking in the trees, and finches flicking
maize and millet from the feeder.  This late in spring,
and still the thin smoke whips from chimneys
a mile away.  We rock and watch the dawn,
a ten-watt bulb beyond the clouds.  Is all
this sideshow spring a barker's promise of warmth?
Our pears bloomed weeks ago, awnings of green
chiffon.  The red oaks bulge, about to burst.  Sleet
clicks like thousands of clocks ticking in our sleep.

We take turns leaving the scene with both mugs
to the kitchen for more, draining the urn,
the stiff steam bending as we straighten rugs
and weave back through forty years of furniture,
drapes opened, sleet beating a mute tattoo,
the old oaks wet and dark out to the pasture,
sleet on the steers' flat backs, bowing to dawn
and browsing, always grass and blocks of salt,
the sky nothing they ever watch, no matter what falls,
nothing fat cattle can't endure.  We rock
and sip in silence, chairs turned to the porch,
grandchildren far away, knowing whatever force
is coming no one could stop, not even us.

© by Walt McDonald


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