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