Monday, April 17, 2017

still life

"Sweatshirt weather" it's called
on a morning like this
when the air is between seasons,
unsure of itself,

and I like to walk
down by the creek bed
through the woods behind my house,
a meandering tramp through wet compost,

over winter's silent deadfall,
spring with just a grip
on the slowly greening edges
of things.

A rotting branch I break
across the knee of my jeans is now
a walking-stick over slick stones
shining with dew

and stinking of wet, wormy soil.
And that is when I hear it first,
the crisp crack of a flag
fluttering in the morning breeze,

a whisper of water behind it.
And then I see what I hear:
a plastic, white shopping bag caught
in the upper boughs of a tree.

The bag ruffles
and then settles
for breath enough
to stop my early-morning walk,

to stand in place in the April mud
and be still, and watch, and listen
as the bag fills with a gulp of air
and then again falls slack,

like some ghostly, synthetic lung,
a pale, breathing bellows,
a blank, displaced kite,
some symbol of flown surrender.

And I notice (my boots mud-striped,
a shattered splinter of branch
firmly clutched in my hands)
that this random composition

of brown tree and white, plastic bag,
this awkward embrace of opposites,
this unaesthetic arrangement of no value at all,
this ugly scene

of which no painter would dare waste a canvas
and no poet would dare waste a page,
even this, this thing
which should not be

but is,
is still

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