After Reading

“Horizons,” “After Reading Traveling Through Dark” and “534-1785”

by Peter Shaheen

After Reading

Horizons

Mostly brown fields salted with white patches of snow—

moist from winter’s thaw and the coming green of spring.

It’s there in the going and coming of seasons, the earth

swallows your fading white form as you walk away.

I follow to the blue horizon wishing you would not depart.

After Reading Traveling Through Dark

Something reassuring should have been said,

As I stood in morning silence—staring

as the restless rush hour—black cars—

traffic devilishly whooshed south.


I often see living earthy toned deer

Grazing on plants in yards,

Or far-off on farms and in fields—

even seen some dead,


but, for me, one so freshly slaughtered is rare.

None with moist tongues pink and white

delicate like a small silent serpent slipped sideways—

from a still mouth sliced open by death.


I paused only a second.

Certainly, I am no avenging angel.

wielding a silver sword—

fending off death.


I don’t read tea leaves

or understand deer

that speak with twisted tongues—

pink and white from the dead.


No, only the sage knows

images so grave. Me, ever so pedestrian,

walked away leaving deer and death—

for poets.

534-1785

It’s not so unusual, I should suppose,

that after my father died, my mother

insisted on keeping his clothes

as if he might come home to change.


His Havana shirts, one a crimson color

A baby blue one, and yellow too. His pants

All hung with his one blue suit and white shirt;

white socks; Tee-shirts; and BVDs in drawers.


She was funny in more ways than that—

always insisting that we just drop by,

never a need to give a call—

“It’s your house too,” she’d say.


Still we called, to say we’re on the way.

It would have been somehow wrong

to break in unexpectedly on her grief—

to find her lonely, startled and alone.


Now three decades have past, and she

too is dead, buried next to her spouse.

Left with colorful Havana shirts, her house key,

and a disconnected number we occasionally dial.

About the Author

Peter Shaheen