Friday, December 30, 2011

Interlude: Work

Window facing an ill-kept front yard
Plums on the tree heavy with nectar
Prayers to summon the destroying angel
Moon stuttering in the sky like film stuck in a projector
       -- The Mountain Goats, “Tallahasse”

What kind of work is this
The scrimshaw idols
Stacked on the shelf,
Popcorn shards
Littering the floor,
Long legs and loafers
Halved by white socks,
Spanish moss dipping
Into the frame like
Water stains

Don’t I know enough
Already to distinguish
The boats curving
Along the river’s arc
From the sad man
Leaning, arms
Crossed, against his
Typewriter’s keys

Or the chapped-lip boy
Clutching his dog
From the dry
burnished field
With its shadows
Stretched out
Behind them

So the garden is brittle,
Almost dust,
Peach and dogwood
A shamble of wire,
Pulse extinguished
To a dull scrape
Of stick against sky,

And why is it
Each season is quick
To append what’s next
To its every inflection
And a single night
Casts about for its
Own synonym,
Yes, what kind of work
Speaks the wrong name
Over and over,
Calls the father a man,
His son a boy,
The field behind his house
A field and doesn’t
Ever say precisely how
He loves them
What kind of work
Is this