County Fair, Senior Year
By the candied apple stand,
I recognize a girl from sophomore history
and the two of us wander together
through the smell of fried dough and manure,
and the two of us pet the Icelandic Sheep,
and kiss the bull, who eats from her hand
near the confederate flag
hung by hollow-eyed blond boys
who stare at her dark skin.
I profess my love to her on the Ferris wheel
and she squeezes my hand...
Then someone needs to hold her pens
as she goes around ‘The TORNADO.’
She goes around and I nearly throw up watching.
She gets off the back, enters a crowd of carnies,
and vanishes like a wallet in a shallow pocket.
I stand there for an hour, holding her pens.
From the highest point on The Grounds
I see a girl with a brown ponytail,
dark skin, and with no pens, but
‘The Amazing PARACHUTES’ lights up
and she's only a caricature artist
cast in white, and red, and blue lights–
And, in fact, her hands are filled
with the little plastic tubes labeled
Sharpie, and Bic, and Paper Mate.
What will become,
of the MERRILL lot
now that everyone has left?
The willow tree is rotting.
The grass has died.
Petals and pollen
stain the rounding stones,
no longer bleached and brushed.
“Edwin Katté Merrill”
Life is eternal;
and love is immortal;
and death is only a horizon.
His mother chose this epitaph…
She’d also saved the shotgun shells,
one live and one spent,
on her mantle. No one
thought to save them
when her house was leveled.
“Bernard Pierre Brouder”
His son and I decorate these words
with two pebbles and cherry
blossoms. His son doesn’t
know his grandfather's name
because he’s buried in Germany
in an unmarked asbestos grave.
The Poet Robert Pinsky asks
if you can name all eight
of your parents grandparents?
What's the point of having them?
Everyone's leaving the MERRILL lot.
No one’s coming back to St. Andrew’s
No, it’s St. Mathew’s... I remember now.
We leave, at last, alone–
passing a foreign-looking woman
(without a trace of an accent)
in the parking lot. The willow’s amber,
which I had stolen, and cherry blossoms
wadd in my pocket. They’ll wait for a grandson,
vaulted as the currency of remembrance.
Like coffee brewing,
Warblers and Wood Thrushes
perch above the sea
in the snow-blossom branches
of a crabapple tree–
while hummingbirds and humming bees,
probe the ova of an apple
and chipmunks scurrying over roots and rocks
are fighting for flowers... Not to eat
But for their mistresses
in tacky Spruce motels.
As if on TV, retreating armies of crabs
break in the beaks of gulls
with the sound of a kettle’s whistle.
It's a sight to behold– Christ!
Even the granite’s a sight to behold!
With her soft curves and austere faces
looking with a feldspar frown at the wild passions
of the spiderwebs and fiddleheads
that creep from cracks in her igneous womb.
The greenness of the grass,
the sweetness of the Sun–
still making breakfast and
spreading marmalade through the branches.
Sing! Sing! Sing of this spectacle!
Let the crescendo echo on the water–
Mr. Loon will startle, and the two of you
will laugh at your foolishness.
Then he and Mrs. Duck
iron out their shirt-sleeves and fly off
with a flock of bastard children...
Leaving an oligoclase Orchard Oriole
to whittle away with song.