Robin Chapman: "Triggering Town"





          —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

                        and despair

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.