The Claim of Presence
avoids triangulation, defining
straight lines as it does with just one body.
Another one. The taken-for-granted:
the shell of a house, the reference to house,
where men practice putting out fires they have
set to file claims. Land claims. Surety claims.
The opposite of going-through-channels
is being out-of-line. Writing up storms
in tornado weather, dodging debris.
“Watch out.” “Heads up.” Warnings galore. Ducks may
trace perfect V’s, in rows, each duck body
a syllable in a straight line, but here
we are clearing out, fondling each bit
of sentiment before we give it
the old heave-ho, putting out all the fires,
riding out the storm. Being present,
we read while the sun bounces off roses
(yellow, for peace, not Texas), wygelia
and phlox (pink), with its usual grace. Tsk, say
the neighbors on the other side, looking
over the fence to where we lie in our
tall grasses as in a bed. And being
here, we begin to count on the flora.
Nourishment for the eye. Presence of mind.
Interstices speak more loudly than things.
You have no fear of falling. Your window
frames a body — a mass — of leaves; wind
makes them shiver. You could have written breeze,
but the weather is neither promising
nor ominous. You’re becalmed. Then
again there are crumbs of light on the wall:
chiaroscuro and untidiness
Can you write your way out of this
impasse? Or into it?
“Shiftlessness”: The following definitions or etymologies inform the poem: Shiftless: not to move or change places; unable to get by; lazy; Interstices: gaps between places to stand; Mass: a lump (from kneaded dough, set to rise); Breeze: originally, a cold, north or northeast wind; eventually a gentle wind or something easy; Chiaroscuro: light and dark; League: from the Latin for “to bind [together]”; Impasse: blind alley or cul-de-sac, a dead end.