Creating connections through the arts and across cultures

Lakeside

Lakeside
In this section: 12 poems, 4 photos

QUAIL VISITATION
Daniel cleaned twin windows facing the mountain.
Cleared away grime two years in the making.
I cooked supper while he looked out.
"What a shame when birds slam into glass."
Then, suddenly, one did.
A big sound. Then, down.
Tiger prowled the deck to claim his surprise supper.
Then jumped up on the screen to announce the meal.

We scrambled outside.
The oval body, more than stunned.
Dead. Neck broken on glass masquerading as air.
Quail.
We'd never seen one fly so high.
Never seen one so close.
Never held one in my hands.
Hunters must all the time.
Topknot dangling. Eyes closed. Heart stopped.
So many shades, soft gray and brown scalloped with black.
Still feet and pointed toes.

"Do you want me to bury it?"
No, I'll lay it at the top of the land.
At the edge of the woods
where the mountain lion roam at night.

Sing a prayer for its soul
to soar higher than houses with solid air.
To soar into another life quicker than coveys
scurry through dry grasses in the moonlight.

The cat-pacing, pacing the deck.
Excited by its whiff of wildness.
I led him outside, in the opposite direction.
If he hunts for it, all right.
But the quail deserves a head start.

BODY BUDDY
Last night I cuddled around my sweetheart's slim frame,
made more slender by my absence.
The boy doesn't know how to eat unless someone feeds him.

I dreamed his body was my mother's body.
The body I now know better than my own.
The pendulous breasts of old age,
earned in part by suckling three children.

We were born out of this body,
a fact more clear to me
now that I've tended her body
as a cross of nurse, lover, and daughter.

Her body is the body of my future.
Already, I'm on the downhill slope towards my death,
assuming I limp through old age to find it.

My breasts can no longer be called
perky in a miracle of defying gravity.
Now they comply with gravity,
and start their descent to my ribcage.
Mother and I weigh the same.
Our bellies begin to look the same.
Mine slightly more toned.
She is the best looking 89-year-old woman we know.

Back home, though,
I no longer have to think
about anyone else's shit but my own.

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  1. Imagine this room,
    stain on the dark wooden floor
    hole where the gas line ran
    where I sat up worried
    I’d killed everyone.
    A room wet with guilt
    a shrine to ignorance
    and naivety,
    a manger of pain.
    This room changed
    but remained the same.
    When I kept falling down
    it made the same crash.
    When I returned,
    it was for sewing-
    (Nothing else really)

    My feet creak the floor
    boards giving under the weight
    of years, or under my shadow-
    light
    shadow
    both mixed.
    No shadow of turning.

    Dave Barber
    15 Nov 08

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