A girl on the stairs listens to her father Beat up her mother. Doors bang. She comes down in her nightgown. The piano stands there in the dark Like a boy with an orchid. She plays what she can Then she turns the lamp on. Her mother's music is spread out On the floor like brochures. She hears her father Running through the leaves. The last black key She presses stays down, makes no sound Someone putting their tongue where their tooth had been.
People study the dingy chenille clouds for a sign.
People did what they have done.
A town, a time, and a woman who lived there.
And left undone what they ought not to have did.
I take one more drive across town thinking about the retired welding teacher easing over that rise seeing the parking lot full of white men. I wonder if he thought he would die in the jungle [where no Vietcong ever called him [N-word] ] or he would die in front of the bowling alley [without ever having been inside] or die in the swimming pool [without ever having been in it, except when drained, and the police had him in their sights]. Or if, because he was a young man, he would never die. I attach V to my driving-around thoughts.
An object unworthy of love she thought she was.
It was a cri de coeur.
Those of our get had given her a nom de guerre: V.
A simple act, to join a march against fear
down an old military road.
We were watching an old movie the night
the table started walking toward us
and there was trouble on Division.
She became a disaffiliated member [of her race].
I'm one of them now, she said, upon release
from jail. I am an invader.
Look into the dark heart and you will see what the dark eats other than your heart.
The world is not ineluctably finished
though the watchfires have been doused
more walls have come down
more walls are being built
Sound of the future, uncanny how close
to the sound of the old
At Daddy's Eyes
"Pusherman" still on the jukebox
Everybody's past redacted
it has always been a series of doors:
if one is opened precipitously a figure is caught bolting from bed
if another, a small table, a list of demands on school paper
if another, a child on the linoleum, saying she wants a white doll
a woman sitting on a bed, holding a folded flag
a shelf of trophies behind her head
an ironing board, bottle of bourbon on the end
sewing machine on a porch
To walk down the road without fear
To sit in a booth and order a sweet soft drink
To work at the front desk
To be referred to as Gentleman
To swim in the pool
To sit in the front row and watch Run Wild, Run Free [next week: Death of a Gunfighter]
To make your way to the end of the day with both eyes in your head
Nothing is not integral
You want to illumine what you see
Fear reflected off an upturned face
Those walnuts turning black in the grass
It is a relatively stable world
But beyond that door
It defies description