Poem With Wisteria Growing Along its Margin
The five cool stars above this town look down upon the main drag & the bar where a guy once fired four bullets into a biker who said nothing to the man, who had just laughed too loud & at an inappropriate moment. The first shot sounded like the break of an eight-ball rack, but louder more resonant. The subsequent squeezes of the trigger--redundant, more resounding as they mixed with the shrieks of beer-drinkers. Hysteria speading among them like wisteria along a garden fence; its occasional balloons of violet flowering vividly in the green mesh of its leaves. I remember lying in such a garden. remember the lush cologne of pollen & the garnet bees buzzing their cargo routes between blossoms & a distant apiary. ˜ I had thought there was nobody else in that place, so I was surprised then, when walking its paths later, to hear weeping. I was amazed by how sudden & communicable sadness can be-- and how embarrassed the woman became when she glanced up to see me standing there, the white heart of a wisteria blossom barely beating in my extended hand. She shook her head & smiled. Her face so fragile I thought she'd shatter. ˜ Consider the ordinance of griefs: should one begin with the phenomenal or the ordinary? I count them on the threads of my shirt and on the gem-like sparkling of dust in the slide of light that entrusts itself to my vision. Then I lose track, distracted by a concert of ambulances & police cruisers: their cacophonic call-and-response. ˜ The next morning I heard how the biker's wife insisted --insisted was the paper's word--it was all her fault: she had wanted to go out that night. And her husband, because he loved her and because it was a lovely October evening & he knew soon he'd have to stow the Harleys away for winter, because of these things he agreed, although it was a weeknight and there'd be an early morning the next day, driving a propane truck. The jukebox was shaking AC/DC's "Shook Me All Night Long" and he had just gotten up for another round . . . She never mentions the expression on his face, mouth agape, suddenly soundless. Then the remaining patrons screaming. ˜ After the questioning and after the gunman took his position in a squad car's back seat & shrank to two dimensions with its slamming door, the officers let the bartender back inside and the owners. The three men sat at a table while one of them poured whiskey into tall tumblers cored with ice. Nobody spoke. When they finished their drinks they simultaneously stood, and, still speechless, went about cleaning up: one of them counting the till; the others filling buckets with rags & suds to start removing blood from the walls & carpet-- a task they knew to be futile but necessary like this poem, in the end, whatever its message. ˜ Weeks passed & still his bike, a 67 Roadster, stood outside the bar, reverent as a statue. Then it was gone although nobody knew where it went or who took it. But I last saw it parked there beneath a thin skin of fresh powder and the splayed glove of light from the bar's bay window. Inside: a small splatter of what may have been blood blemished the pool table felt like a location on a map you can't return to, & the new barman polished the heavy glass mugs with a rag. Outside the snow wafted scattershot like blossoms on a dark wall of ivy.
From The Window Facing Winter by Gerry LaFemina, published by New Issues Poetry & Prose. Copyright © 2004 by Gerry LaFemina. Reprinted by permission of New Issues Poetry & Prose. All rights reserved.