Tuesday, November 04, 2003


The maples have dumped their leaves this week; the brown crabgrass of the backyard's hidden under a layer of yellow leaves and the kitchen window, without the partial screen of leaves, looks directly at the back porch and into the kitchen of the neighbor's house.

C's wood sculpture hangs from the top of their porch: a spiral sunburst on the left, rays spreading right, in an oblong frame, all in oddly dark red green and blue. The neighbor is a tall, pleasant man, with whom I've had two substantive conversations in our whole six years here. He initiated them both.

In the first, he asked whether we'd been satisfied with the yard work done by someone we'd hired after seeing them work on his yard. In the second he asked permission to trim some of the branches of our unruly Norway spruce that overhung his driveway, and said that his wife was quite ill.

I gaze out through C's dark sun and feel a heavy sadness.

Last July I heard singing from his house, hymns; I couldn't make out all the words, but was sure I heard "fire fall," obviously a pentecostal image. I was in the midst of writing a poem based on a snippet of conversation I'd overheard at the Fourth of July fireworks. The poem became a pentecostal poem.


“Where’s the finale, Daddy ?” lisps the child.

“Finale means the end,” the man replies,
didactic, fatherly, “but there’s lots more
to come yet, son. Don’t worry. Lots, lots more.
Of course you’re right -- the grand finale’s grand,

grand lights, grand sound, but, still, a long way off.
Don’t worry, boy. There’s plenty left (a loud
report drowns out the shaky voice) I’d say,
at least fifteen or twenty minutes -- look !”

He points to something whistling through the dark,
and braces for the flash and blast. The sky
blooms with red flame round as a giant moon.
The fire fall whets his tongue. Half-drunk, he cries,

“Wasn’t that splendid, love ?” The wind rises.
Smoke billows overhead. “Thus we transit
the glorious mundane to the last days,
the grand finale and what lies beyond !”

The child covers his ears, presses his face
into his father’s thigh. Muscle and hair
repel the little cheek. “And so much more
has yet to come !” exults the father.

“I want go home see Mommy,” sobs the child.

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