Disturbance, Seaside, and Storm: Poems
Where did they go, the suicides,
the ones who jumped or dangled
or didn’t wake up, who bought
a gun, the price
tag still looped
around the trigger guard, daylight
sliding through a window
tattooed with wet leaves, tea
still warm in a cup?
What were their names?
The ones who left us
willingly, stepped away
from our phone calls
and kisses, chose to live
outside their little sac of time.
Whatever we did or didn’t do,
they’ve left us behind
like a dog disappears
into a field, that luxurious fur
the same pale yellow
as the weeds, making
the same rippling motion
waving beneath the breeze.
There is nothing as beautiful as a young boy,
fresh from the ocean, his hair dripping, his shoulders
still small but already squared, his legs thin
with just a hint of muscle at the
calves, somewhat like
a lanky young calf—all leg, all head—but not as gorgeous
as a boy, his hands too large for his arms, feet
he’ll grow into, knees two knots of bone
shivering under a towel thrown over his bent body
by his mother, standing helpless before him,
helpless to help him when the others of his kind
school for that body with fists, kicking at his belly,
his chest, so soft now under her hand as she
dries his skin to a shine, the playground not yet
chaining him in, the bats and balls not yet
flung, harmless rocks and sticks still dug
into the sand at his feet, not yet excavated, thrown,
the battlefield of bikes and skateboards, the speed
of cars, all that metal hurtling toward him,
no beer or weed or pills in his bloodstream,
the fine veins bluing on the insides of his arms
as he crawls into her lap, cradled and rocked
a few more hours before the storm.
Sunset over Pasco, standing outside
the lecture hall, smoking fifty feet away
from the entrance next to the unreadable
sundial, a helixy thing forged of iron
within a ball-shaped cage, an arrow
struck through, Roman Numerals
embossed along the side of a Mobius strip.
It’s a time capsule to be opened in 2035,
a year I won’t be
alive to see. What
have they sacrificed to save? Some kid
of the future will loosen the last bolt and uncap
the granite tomb, slide a hand into the dank.
That’s enough of my non-life.
I turn toward the sunset. The dust of Pasco
seeding the pink clouds. Just another sunset.
Just another instance of the world
turning itself inside out.
Tomorrow I’ll watch a storm come in
from two directions. I’ll keep calling
my husband to the porch to see.
The lightening will strike horizontally
across the sky, ripping it in half.
The rain will dump truck down.
We will never tire of it.
Dorianne Laux’s fifth collection, The Book of Men, winner of The Paterson Prize, is available from W.W. Norton. Her fourth book of poems, Facts about the Moon won The Oregon Book Award and was short-listed for the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize. Laux is also the author of Awake, What We Carry, Smoke, as well as two fine small press editions: Superman: The Chapbook and Dark Charms. She is the co-author of The Poet's Companion: A Guide to the Pleasures of Writing Poetry. Among Laux's awards are two Best American Poetry Prizes, a Pushcart Prize, two fellowships from The National Endowment for the Arts, and a Guggenheim Fellowship.