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Canary Weather

ISSUE:  Autumn 1995
It comes in sharp, a smell like the James River’s foam.
It remembers azalea, willow, the sway
Of laurel, or camellia’s pink-smoked buds dawning open
like a woman’s hands with moonlight in his dark room.
It flings invisible from where he lives hands of wind
Filled like a god’s promise with those goldfinches,
Yellow-red streaks luminuous as hair on the pillow.
Its hands left them in droughty fields, fetal, nailed.
It remembers cardinals, albino owls, a girl.
It brings dew-stilled grass, the cold gaze of horse-eyes.
It holds him, though he stiffens, there in his yard.
Its tides wash distance in, claiming what fate gave,
Cones, needles, salt-sunk boats, swirling yellow birds.

Dave Smith


I stay in the present even though it’s many years ago that I
ask the woman to name her hair’s odd color Now it’s now the future & I can’t recall her description She’s a
girl really even if I say woman & I’m a boy at a party
down in Virginia Richmond Who in the world throws it
& why I’m invited I’ll die before I can say Yet today or
actually yesterday time evaporates or partway I stroke
our baby’s hair in wooziest devotion hair of a shade so
alike it puts all these notions in motion She sits in her
infant seat amid cookiecrumbs appleskins et cetera as we
drive to school to fetch her sister I can’t for my life fetch
up the other her face or name or how she calls her hair or
why a bit of it seems so crucial Copious sap runs into the
maples In brooks ice breaks Ice broken some sparks do
fly but all we do by & by is Smalltalk (& the last time we’ll
meet is this day) though big things brew already in
Alabam’ She pronounces it so as if in mockery of her
own sort of speech & of course Viet Nam That much I
can report & her bleached eyes’ color also unusual
even if I’m not ready to judge whether beautiful & I can
see a scar It stands out on the tan skin of her arm white as
a star She says it was made by a brother He stabbed her
in a temper tantrum so hard with scissors she bled no
matter they were a round kindergarten kind He meant to
cut off her head Maybe I think he did With a hand
she hefts the hair as if it were bloody 1959 September
month when Joe a neighbor’s kid dies in a fire in the
peacetime navy or maybe a barfight I don’t remember &
don’t remember the girl’s name in Virginia that night &
how she describes her hair But why do these matter
anyway compared say to troubles in Russia not to mention
in Bosnia & even in Waco Texas where a few died right
away & later many & all because of some zealots It’s
only that I want what the personal even the daily
even the trivial still to count & to see 30 years as other
than a blur Trying at all events to summon a name &
word I stray across a white line & look up in time to see
it arrive Death Some claim that when you whiff its hot
salt breath your life on earth passes before your eyes &
for what it’s worth I’ll testify o yes that’s true at least
parts do but I can’t even tell which ones as now I yank
my wheel back toward the right ditch & we sway &
lean & lurch & the baby cries & before my eyes is the
great grille’s tin grin & then in the truck’s bed logs & a
cherrypicker crane & sky above I’ll be dead soon It
seems incredibly sad because unlike some I have
always loved being husband & being father Yet of course
for our baby it is even sadder so pink her time on earth so
small But now the airhorn blasts o glory be behind me
suddenly & fades & after all I think I’ll see everyone
again & so breathe at last o yes it was Lemonade &
yes o yes Mary Jane


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