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Looking Back

ISSUE:  Autumn 1987

When I am desperate
I turn to simple things:
The shadow of an iron railing,
the sad, anonymous painting
in the basement of the museum,
the paper brick houses along the river
where a child wearing nothing but a winter coat
beats a stick on a doberman’s cage.

When I am through with all of you,
I turn to memory: the sweet smell
of insecticide at dusk,
the bogeyman driving his wagon.
Hidden in the deepest part of the yard,
Dixie has a jar that smells of pickles,
that billows with stars,
her white sunsuit glows
between heaven and earth
as she cartwheels down to the creek.

We wade in and pee,
the water warm from noon,
it calls us each by name,
Shannon, Kelly, Garland,
we kneel, we drag our bellies on the bottom.
No chill, no call from the house,
no need to rise for breath.


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