Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


Today Mr. Rufo

Today Mr. Rufo died. During a game of bocce ball, 
he leaned on his friend's shoulder and died.
Just five minutes before we found out, Jon and I 
had been walking with our dumb, bourgeois fruit smoothies,
and we stopped by a bush that had all these purple flowers
bursting out of it, and I said, Look how the dead flowers
are a darker purple, a bluish blackish purple
and the live flowers are magenta. Do you think
the dead flowers used to be magenta, or did all 
the darker purple flowers die first?  
(The dead flowers crumpled closed like soggy 
paper umbrellas, while the live ones stretched open, each 
like a child's hand reaching—)

Afterwards, all the family came and assembled and
sat outside together on the patio.  For days, I did not see
Mrs. Rufo. She must have been inside the house
all that time. Meanwhile a big yellow garden spider
built his web above the plot of dirt and weeds 
and wildish plants that's just beside their outside staircase.
It's true that spiders are noiseless, I realized, 
watching the spider in its nonstop industry, listening to the spider.
All of us have read "A noiseless patient spider…" 
but to hear, really, that absence of sound
is something altogether different. Because the soundlessness
is transparent and shaped like a geometric plane.  
It casts a silent white shadow that's bigger 
than the spider is big, and when the spider dies, 
the silence that replaces its silence 
is bigger than the spider's silence was big.

Credit


From Spring, published by University of Illinois Press. Copyright © 2008 by Oni Buchanan. Used with permission.

Author


Oni Buchanan

Oni Buchanan is the author of three poetry collections, most recently Must a Violence (Kuhl House Press, 2012).

Date Published: 2008-01-01

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/today-mr-rufo