Poem – After Shunning

AFTER SHUNNING

                                     -for the Treuherzigen

i. Out of the Dark

The footprints I follow to my door
are mine, and the clutter on the table.

This poem is wrong, because I
have been straightening up for months.

Today when I woke, the air held
the packed silence of snow.

If you came tonight, out of the dark,
snow would slide from my roof.

ii. Just This

Pines on a February afternoon.
Is this enough?—the salt–white road, the half-
hearted walls piled with cinders, a few leaves
leaping up. No one has been kissed, nothing

written. Between towns, an ocean glimpse
is aqua-marine, extravagant. Leaves
leap up. There is water, and sky, then just this
wide light on the needles beneath the pines.

iii. Past Places

These roads again, empty, winding past places
I have known: the frozen shipyard;
the fish house, shuttered up;
the burial ground, still swallowing itself.

Downtown, February snow dozes on doorsteps,
but the avenues here are salt-dry, and rows
of whitewashed houses are remembering the sun.
Every sunlit clapboard is a pang.

iv. What if Bass

In the wood duck’s wake the cypress dimples;
red-winged blackbirds are thrilling the cattails;
wind or water striders ripple the doubled shore.

So what if bass make their unfathomed rounds
or if the moth scribbles his erratic map?
The beaver’s tail is the mad slap of hope.

v. Who Would Not

This October woman crossing a stubbled field,
her hair black and her daughter blowing,
her hair blacker far than the stripped limbs;

who, when she looks up in that field to ask,
(her hair black as crow, blacker yet) who would not
furnish her from his breast one fire-tipped cigarette?

vi. This Birch

Civility rises as this birch
lifts its face, and stretches.

There is remembrance in these limbs,
of wind, and rain, and mute kisses.

All the gestures of the branches say
the gifts I bring must be refused.

Let this tree be dressed as light allows;
let it be white amid dark boughs.

-The poem entire. Winner of The Shine Journal Poetry Contest.

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