from Old Men Forget
Through one eye. Lafeyette lays quietly.
He does not nail it in place but the end
of th’longer paddle
is tapered and rounded to fit
the bottom of the pot ‘I said,’ exactly
the same shape.
The room is full of smoke, faint afternoons
‘damn, leave me be,’ both handles are
made with’at drawing knife so the pine
won’t dig, ‘dammit,’ when coming
into a curve.
There is a cold beating, Lafeyette, hard
glistens at the pit gazing I take
from the bucket & pull off my clothes
& lay along the cool counterpanes
beneath the shed.
Then I went by slowly, and round behind
the barn, as I followed, she sat
deeper & graver
looking-up at lathing set a-pitch
and the window, open,
sixteen or eighteen inches hewn.
She would not think the full-moon full
unless she saw it in the water
and ‘only after
was it’ chinking on the back
like a ‘red spider’ falling
on each chestnut stall.
We’re on the outside of outside, fenced
from the garden to the hills
like the bells –
Ringing. Ring. Ring.
walking no regular rhythm.
The second again: by now it was full
whispering, chortling, crowing whippoorwill
beds & lamp unlit & still I face another
seam, withered, and lay through two half-inches
behind my head.
Across the floor, towards what hangs
from a nail, he catches himself up, no longer
any quiet, clean
linen – but th’poor shuffling now beneath
soaked cloth where he has found it and
The bed planks creak, and I can make her
bare feet slow, not shuffling, not
voice not whispering, ‘git awn t’sleep,’ and
the twisting and grumbling sound
which will not grow.
Later on, in the kitchen, John sliced
not honest cornbread, not even
biscuit, ‘I hain’t
heard him say nothing,’ and we sat
in two chairs, with my back
against the wall.
‘I thought you said,’ it was as though
she walked straight through the sound
her feet, naked
leaving the voice ‘quiet.’ He took
another plate down, his hands
‘It was the boy,’ I watched him go
over to th’sink and prepare
to wash, ‘that’s
what I’m talking about,’ her long
fingers and I remember Geneva, how
‘here, I’m trying to explain.’
After we packed the mule & positioned
the felled old things, brought the lace
in that quiet, constant scene, leaning this
way about the smooth, thin body
through the door –
‘What good,’ we continued, with used calico
pantalettes, smooth prim braids
down with the smell rising like
music – only, ‘stillborn,’ and complete
only, ‘that’s a fact.’
‘Now you,’ Lafeyette said something, ‘quit that
now,’ & we passed the pasture gate –
are you,’ through John’s eyes, & it looks
back at me, fading, at that broken angle, that
cat’s eyes do.
Doog Wood © 2008