New Work


August

How I have taken for granted

the galaxies of crickets

the black dog resting
her head on the ample moon

these nights
laying their calm blankets out

to forget me


(First appeared in Field)





Dying Boy

Instead you will be with
your owl collection
your brown and orange shirts
the paintings by your friend
but you ask me
in your milk voice still-here voice
can you have another hill of pillows
for your knees that have turned
already back into snow
and can I bring our wedding quilt
its squares of summer stories
and can I leave the light on
please

(First appeared in Plume)





November on Fresh Pond

But most of all
I have loved afternoons the color of found pennies

and dogs at home in the worlds
of only their names

and the lonely
tall and at peace with their shadows

everything seems to be holding hands although
it is nothing perhaps but the light with great care

joining together the proper ends of things
for in this deep moment there is almost enough touch

and I have loved the sun lowering itself gingerly
into the smooth gray water

like an old woman sore from her long good day
taking a last quick swim

(First appeared in Plume)





Prayer for My Rapist

I hope he has learned
to slink unnoticed across the nights’
sad meadows, leaving the asters
alone in their clusters, evading
the blackberries’ thorns. So much
running: from pillow-slam,
scream-and-I’ll-kill-you, knife
in the sock, from bureau shoved
in front of bathroom door. From
seven streaked polaroids.

He has a silky scar
on the left just under one eye. He is
short, his hair is lush as a puppy’s.
Touching him saves my life.
Remembering him saves my life.
Crouch him in any dark, deprive him
of fingerprints. I will always be
wide awake although he is old,
a little less mad, cleaned up.
Something about the things

that a stare can’t freeze, the squalid
rattle deep in the ribs. It is only
a cough. It is only a trapped wolf’s fury.
It is the sum of his father's father's
despair, no more than that.
He has no shirt. He has no coat.
His shoes are torn. He is thirsty, his legs
are weak. He clatters and trips.
The soft grass offers him only
the might of her pity.

(First appeared in under a warm green linden)





Farewell Blessing

Lord receive the soul of this good dog,
he comes to you in unmarred innocence;

may he now rest his chin against
your knee’s great ledge;

may he be met by friends remembered
and new friends;

may his leash be without end, his collar easy,
paws forever fleet;

may his panting remain close to those
alone at Sunday’s dusk

so it may warm them by the flameless hearth
of his forbearing peace;

may he sleep within the perfect oval
of the moon's light on a window seat,

and each star know him by its light along
the pasture of his wintermost fur;

Lord receive him, run to him
with the exuberance of little children;

then let him stay
exactly who he is —

his mystery, his everydayness.

(First appeared in Plume)





Louise

She was here, no she was
really here. She had taken her shoes off,
sat down at the foot of your bed, hand on
your peace-white hand,

her picnic basket and sleeveless blouse;
and it was the seashore, she could still bear
to look at food;

and the sun had come back
for her hair, and it filled your room,
a braid gone quiet; and you were the camera
she smiled for.

(First appeared in Salamander)





Golgotha

Then they came and cleansed you my love
with a separate sponge for each arm
each hand and its citizen fingers
each leg and each foot pale as magnolia
and swept a burst of holy wind through your hair
for ease of travel and then they anointed
one of your kerchiefs with tapwater
and made new your chest and belly
and blurred your sex
then they gathered
their competent shadows
and turned you
muscled with tender indifference
your boulder of pain
onto a kinder place and smoothed you
and pressed upon your tongue
a eucharist of ice
and raised the blinds
on the wild and sleeping day

for Holly Antolini

(First appeared in Plume)





Unction

At last you became less sick
skin feverless hummingbird pulse

as fewer visitors
lay their palms against your cheek

as your sleep turned back into
the Saturday weather of meadows

and your thirst a mountain brook’s
bright March trickle

as the words you had loved
darted forth like the musicless gray

of moths over the evening wind

and your hands the caves
in which mine still burrowed

gave up the last of their comfort
and grew dim for the night

(First appeared in Field)





Receiving the Host

bless this oatmeal
this ice cream
bless shakes these awful
jammed with calories
thick so you can swallow
thick so you can live
a little longer bless
vanilla just enough
to get the pills down
bless this little ovaltine
mixed in bless every spoon
on which your lips
still close this straw
that bends so you can live
o bless this syringe this
single liquid
dose as needed
bless this
little longer

(First appeared in Plume)





The Rabbits of Upland Road

You are going to lose everything.
The funeral home will show up to gather
your father beneath a velvet shroud.
The red potatoes will sprout in their basket
inside the window. Someone will wash
and fold the bedding and give it away,
the neighbors’ visits stop.
The art will assess at barely a fraction
and then you will run out of
boxes. The plants will wither. No one
will want the rare books. In time,
your handwriting, too, will tie itself
into mad tangles. You will never
be granted the mercy you pled for.
Your hoarse voice will startle you.
But look: two brown rabbits
have popped naïvely out from behind
the lilacs. In their lovely identical eyes
rests the gem of everyday trust. It needs
no faceting. Then the evening blinks although
it is nowhere near dark, and leaves you
alone with just enough thanks
to tear off one more rag.

(First appeared in under a warm green linden)





 © Frannie Lindsay.

 

photo by Lee Fallontowne