V  P  R

Contemporary Poetry and Poetics




Here sound's down-geared
    to barely heard: a loon, a lone
wind chime, a red squirrel
    scaling an aspen. Sphagnum
deadens the footfall of a woman
    passing our cabin door,
hunting mushrooms. Her last name's
    common for this part of Maine;
I've seen it painted
    on mailboxes and chiseled
on markers in the roadside
    cemetery, where the plots
are overgrown with nettles
    and wild blueberries.
When I offer wine, she looks
    over her shoulder, says maybe
next time, though after a long
    silence, she sets her basket down.
We talk about terns, tides,
    the approaching winter,
the For Sale signs lining Route 10
    north toward Canada—
many more than when she married
    and moved to Rockland
twenty years ago—then watch
    three quarrymen across the inlet
muscle a slab of granite
    onto a flatbed, their grunts
and hard breathing carrying
    to us on the tongue
of water in between. At the final
    slam of stone she shudders,
jerks her head around
    and says it's late, her husband
will be wanting dinner, that even
    without children, there's no end
of bustle—a shut-in mother,
    the big wheels on the tractor
needing grease, the whole
    morning canning a bushel
of tomatoes, listening
    by the burner for the lids to seal.


© by Steve Myers


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