times catches on
times catches on
Okay, Okay. It's seven blocks down Sycamore, past Tenth, time is nothing, the air thick with gardenias, why on earth would someone grow those damn things in their yard, one whiff at a wedding is enough to last you until the next wedding, a yard full of that smell intoxicates, the atmosphere a vat of drowning wishes, and drives me out where I should be, the dark swallowing me whole, the cracks in the street pushing against the soles of shoes so worn they might not make it home with me tonight, but for their quiet they are useless against the street and those cracks and the rocks and the curb's edge and the sudden water meter holes hidden in the black grass, and I wonder at the wake I trail in the heavy scent of white flowers, and the shadows I cast on the blooms white even in the sliver of waned moon, and I shake at the bark of white dogs, and start at white cats, and pray for white birds to guide me on, through dimlight porch light envelopes, and seething urban soil rich with tender care and test tube miracles, and along shoestring paths of desire, and quiet, quiet, quiet, step, step, step, breath, breath, and the sound of breathing to you a locomotive, to them the wind in the palms, and quiet, quiet, step and the sound of treading to you a slap in the dim kitchen of don't wake your mother, take it like a man, to them the patter of ebony leaves dry like flakes of fried tortilla brushed off the tables to the blackmouth mutt sleeps behind the stove, dry like the wheeze of Uncle Ernest in his sleep lately in the rocking back chair, and quiet, quiet, swish, the whoosh of clothed leg against the Bird-of-Paradise, to you the sudden letting go of the Venetian blinds strand, to them the hiss of after the anthem television in the sleeping room of cousins for Christmas, and the quiet, quiet, tap, tap of your print on glass, your identity, your downfall if you aren't who you are, tapping the dark room alive, awake, alight, in the night, to you like grandpa's old dance drum, all the grandchildren singing falsetto to his past and yours now, to them only the air conditioner dripping in the drain pan, air, conditioning, draining, conditioned, sleeping, and there you are with her hand in yours, hers part of something hidden, forbidden perhaps, there hovering in the dark, inside the window, inside the place you've never been and won't until you've been inside yourself a whole lifetime, and her whole lifetime now pounding away, the steady beat of passing moments, now here, now gone, now here, now gone, wrist to wrist, whisper to whisper, a hair brushes skin, skin brushes hair, breath brushes breath, word passes word in the dark seeking solace and soliloquy and solitude if two can manage solitude, and life brushes life, and there is a moment, an infinitesimal micro-moment, and then it's gone, and you, and you remember the path, the palms, the pressure of the planet on your toes, the brush against the giant calming leaves of the Bird-of-Paradise, or is it pair-of-dice, and the whiteness, and the porch lights, and the gentle smell of the gardenia on Sycamore Street, after time has come back to get you.
Published in Waterways, January 2003 (for Albert Huffstickler)