Bio Note: I am a former laborer in the public schools, long-time husband, and current grandfather to four children who in my view are unprecedented in the history of grandchildren. My leisure time is spent following Kansas City professional sports, and my hobby is making greeting cards for all occasions. I have never had a poem published in The New Yorker.
Neither on spring mornings when she said winged pipers announce the sun with tambourine trills and whistles, nor in winter when she said the hoot owl calls black-clad heaven come, swaddle the ghost-faced moon; nor in autumn when she said leaves skitter laughing from the wind’s frustrated grasp, nor late in summer when she said cicadas hide their faces and chant sorry sorry, sorry sorry— never did a moment grab her and not squeeze out dollops of dip. Baby tulips became tiny radar towers, and an icicle the mad gutter’s drool, and chimney smoke exhaust from an idling hearse, and sprinklers mothers shushing their lawns, until the galvanized pail by the pump and the ax, blade sunk in the block— all things in themselves— (she licked her lips) disappeared under globs of semantic ambiguity. I have dreamed of her slapping away my one clapping hand and her favorite lovers hauling her off in her palanquin; then I wake and hear her slurp-slurping herself, and call her again to the uncertain mystery we rise in and set in, as if she could make thunder crack in a sky shining clear and blue, as if she were bent to listen. In the yard the white chickens tuck-tuck.
The Lost Arch-Angel Counsels Bob
When skin crepes, and gravity bends your skeleton, When your neck and knees crack like tired castanets, When your toe nails harden into adobe shards, uncuttable, Accept the gifts the mind in itself gets. His great design tossed you ashore once, like jetsam; When He reclaims you, broken piece by withered part You get to watch yourself wade into an ocean of love— Let gratitude wash over your old heart. The baby that never giggled before its bulged eyes shut— The kid in his pickup when the big rig’s tire blew— The father in a heap beside the treadmill’s turning belt— In a trice, if he could, would envy you. When mind-mice steal from your trivia stockpile, And printed directions hurt, like too small slip-on shoes, And the TV remote turns into a dead cordless phone, Opt for joy—bless each fresh violet bruise.
©2023 Steve Hatfield
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