Poem 69

Canaries in the coal mines collect among them the illusion of soot. They fret the candle. They fear the lamp; they watch match-side for the flicker of tightly wound impulse: applauding the hillside to crumbs. Canaries in the coal mine, were they to look upon the afternoon would think quite seriously that the sun had landed beside them, a canary himself and burned their memories away. I cannot decide how to catch their wings on fire. Canaries in the coal mine have no place around the branch barbs or the street cars, they would ponder too viscerally towards the trash cans and mini-vans. Oh! the churning gurgling of their sooted gullets, I won’t trouble you to sing to me, in your rusty hinging cage. Not for this one. Or any others, dear canary in the coal mine. For a moment I still believed you were a bird.
–ECW

Poem 69 RevisedPoem 69 Edited

Poem 68

To a very dear friend, Miss Gill, whose last words to me in writing were: See You Soon!!
She wrote.
I
All the corners of the globe my fingers refuse to acknowledge:
Russia’s bowed forearms, the himmalayan rowed molars, 1000 pinhead islands
kissing the forehead of china; with the flick of a finger
I could send them blurring backwards and with
The prick of that same hand I could jolt the whirling wheelbarrow at once
And rue the very wish for such control.
With the impatient end of a paper-clip I could gnaw tectonics within them
Draw the lines so many times traces by hands and fingers
Cracking the surface, cracking the scull
With the muzzle of a mouth and the grating of un-teeth
Could chew the waxy ends of a life almost finished and pressure the fibrous bones
To stretch beyond themselves as overbanked clay might in remembering more malleable days.
There they stood collecting salt on the toes of their shoes.
Grabbing at the whistle of someone else’s ambulance. They will not release the name.
Come away,
come away from the crooked tiretracks, the fallen letters.
The westward setting sun on the eve of the desert threatens the grass funeral daily.
Who will water the petunias now?
There, with the dancing hand of a conducting symphony only to silence
the trumpeting palm across the wheel.
A collection of fifty predetermined casualties lines up in her body now.
Who will water the petunias?
How will they lift her from the pavement?
How does a body fall when the exertion of force flutters through every molecule?
How does a body land if the breathing beast could slow, could feel could sympathy; breath.
No one apologizing, scratching of pens on paper.
The sound of a loud and important voice detailing protocol.
How does that body fall?
II
With out grace.
The voice in the walls is whispering about geography.
There are seven continents. There will be a quiz on their names. Spelling counts.
Tap. Tap. Tap.
With nothing important to clutter the table. I pick at the corner of my nametag.
Tap. Tap. Tap.
My mother pulls the pan from the oven. Steam and salt in the air.
There is tapping of fingernails familiar on the newly granite countertops.
I am not so concerned with the continents. I am now fascinated with connections.
Universities draw maps of the globe in the language of relationships.
How the grass grows in India.
Pieces of the leftover knowledge.
Erase thoroughly.
Erase everything.
Pencil shavings and nothing on the desk but the name tag with the letters all there.
All the right letters. Someone took great care to pay attention to the letters.
She went outside to get the letters and the mail truck rounded the corner.
The letters weren’t there, not all of them.
Not the one in my drawer I had been meaning to write.
Someone was paying close attention to the letters.
III
It would be blistering, the black baking flesh.
The kind of afternoon where the sun sat in the center of the eye until quite suddenly
someone reminded you it was eight thirty and you turned out the lamp in the kitchen.
Backwards, a face face down facing china, digging their heels in about digging all the way to get
there digging for conversation with the faceless masses, if I could dig from china
starting at twelve fifteen three weeks ago I might have cracked the crust in time
to catch her from the fall if all the clocks in china were timed to the right moment I still would have called a minute or ninety too late.
So sorry.
So sorry indeed to be leaving this on your macheen.
Pleese don’t teese me with the message about calling mee back.
I’ll wait by the phone. Some time soon you’ll tell mee about the close call
in the street where hee almost didn’t look up in timee.
Almost. Almost everyone forgot the letters all the letters were always in the right place.
Every EE in Emilee. She had to get the letters, I know this to be true.
IV
I counted on my fingers the colors of the crooked countries.
We wrote them will rotten-egg markets and called them by name to the walls,
who whispered to us of the iron curtain and the Persian wars.
Paperback-parchment history landing among the dust missed
by the mere syllabic recognition of places I’ll never go.
I scrape my nails across mustard Egypt and candy red Cairo.
Clutch the toenails of Canada as she rests her weight on the pole.
It was whole. The globe,
when the plates cracked open like the surface of an egg.
Could cook an egg on the sidewalk in such heat.
It could spill out like the unholy confession gulped down by the sudden-end…
you know how these things tend to go.
V
Flowers and weeds. Stuble and seeds.
These are the broken contemplations gardened from our Tuesday afternoons.
Someone waits by the door for the shouting to subside.
The thick slick slap of a hand on the pavement.
The hum-drum roar of the brakes.
Catholicism means there are no mistakes. And what
do you tell me then, when the lights flicker from the timers half ancient,
the perfect way to end a sentence is with a verb:
She went.
I’m not quite sure where they go
when they are shaken from their fibers.
They walk (across the sidelong pathways).
She looked (perhaps left and not right)
He checked (to make sure he was headed in the right direction)
I called (and left a message without enough verbs)
Crying tastes like bile. Lying tastes like spenda.
Someone aught to flower the petunias.
Someone aught to read the mail.
In a drawer with the photos and the postage stamps.
Below the calendar and beside the atlas she
as the living to the living about all the important things:
Flowers and seeds, stubble and weeds.
Needs. And greeds. And heeds and pleads.
She wrote (my mother should water the petunias). 
–ECW