A poem for For J.H.
What is left
The building you
About to be torn down
Where once I sat on the edge
Of your bed and you
Carried in a platter of fruit
As if you meant to stay,
I watched your backpack grow,
Orchards where you’d pick
Fruit in the spring,
Groaning with the weight
Of long highways that lead to
The mountains and back down
To some house you are
Building in the valley, some
Horse you are earnestly riding
Toward some gathering storm,
Some woman waiting
In an all-night café.
I want to be free, you said,
And you are. You are as free
As what you carry. Those mountains
Will be crossed, the pack adjusted
To your shoulders I used to
Touch those mornings when summer’s
Shadows lay on your face
Like leaves before they fall.
Duwamish Between Seasons
We travel away from the world. Summer
Storms have turned the river brown. Only
The river moves through the valley; the
Barns die, the people have gone to the city.
We move at different speeds. Jean ambles,
Looks for mushrooms, can’t remember where she
Parked the truck. We stop at the bridge to tell
What we saw.
There’s a man down there who doesn’t know
How to fish, Jean says, the water’s wrong.
Summer rises from the hot grass like a girl
In an old dress. The shadow of death slips over
The hills like wine spilled across a table.
Death is very, very quiet; a rattle of crickets
In the hot grass, it’s going to rain any moment.
We move down the valley ahead of the shadow
And eat our lunch slow. We travel all day in a
Yellow truck, followed by thunder.