Braving the Wilds

Field Notes from the Suburban Jungle

Tag: Renewal

Baptism

For Alyce

Voices, indiscriminate, mingled with
The rushing water, white noise
Suggestions of unfinished conversations,
Whispered and bellowed
During this interminable day.

If I closed my eyes I could
Conjure the river in the Spring:
Unfiltered melted snow rushing
Next to an old Indian trail
Long since paved over,
Lavender on its banks, the oil
Of which perfumes a colicky baby’s bath.

Wash away the day, you say,
Crawl into bed with no hint
Of the dust that sticks
To your skin, that burdensome layer
Sent to the waterways with
The race of men who live
In its rapids.

The nights should pass as fast
As years with young children.
Slow the day and walk on the earth with dry feet
Sound, circum caput, no longer
Plagued like Macbeth, but
Reborn, unburdened, present
And able to rest.

Please Pardon Our Appearance

Come along, Dear,

She didn’t heed,

The little girl with dirty knees

And simple needs:

Popcorn, with extra butter.

The theatre was closed,

Temporarily,

It’s windows papered

While others labored

For something altogether new.

Peeled back, like

The rough hem of a curtain,

A fitting room

Where women groomed:

Work boots, revealed.

She doesn’t know,

Quite yet, the social mores,

Of personal space,

The essential grace

Of privacy, of convention.

Curious of what happens

Behind the drapes

We draw for ourselves

Where tortuous elves

Tear everything down.

Hard work, a boulot,

More mundane in French:

The rituals of preservation,

Of salvation,

Of rising out of the ashes.

Leave them be, Dear,

An outstretched hand, to

Teach the child,

Ignore the junk, piled

And patiently await the Phoenix.

Seasonal Cottage

When the grass began to sprout
From the swathes of grey like
Tufts of newborn hair, starkly
Green and colorful against the dead
Landscape, ripe for the
Awakening: ’twas a signal,
A call to the Lake to install the
Porch screens. We’d inspect the
Damage from a hard-played previous
Summer, winter months stacked
Against the wall, tucked behind
Antique wicker purchased
Three generations ago.

Barn swallows, chimney swifts,
House sparrows and non-native
Starlings didn’t take kindly
To having their nests moved,
So we avoided construction altogether,
Pinching our whitened fingers
Between hook and eye closures,
Some winking with rust. The screens
streaked with mould, others
Grey, having just been stapled to
Chipped wooden frames, homemade
By the over-taxed man who
Funded this seasonal household
At present.

“Just like New York!” he’d say,
As if this porch were the
Epitome of fine-tuned engineering;
Yet we all knew he hated the City,
In “its constant state of decay.”
“Renewal, Dad,” I’d protest,
Thinking of the thousands of men
And women, scurrying on, over, under
Its streets, changing the hardscape on which
They trod with heavy feet.