twenty-thousand blackbirds called your name:
winter drifts in
an iron splinter
& just a few leaves were left from November, bright as little
tambourines shaking in
snow-wind: twenty-thousand blackbirds called your name.
THE WARDS ALWAYS SMELLED OF AMMONIA, a war of blood:
I could see a small blue flame burning.
You, on the other hand, always smelled of dry spicy talcum
I saw the lean jockey
no fat, all bone
flaring forth from the gate
with such a passion.
I WAS MADLY IN LOVE WITH YOU for a time
after you died.
I turned the earth each autumn
with my boot-toe
as I untied, retied your letters with the blue ribbon.
I lived alone on the coast in white clapboard, hung out in coffee
flirted with young African American
men & women.
It was not scripture: it was an ordinary word
a sparrow shot away, ordinary bird.
I pressed a shirt bright moonlight: very hot iron:
very white chocolate, very old roses:
very black cut & printed ink-jet nights.
WHEN MY BROTHER-IN-LAW TURNED SIXTY
there were sixty blood red roses.
When I put six decades behind me
the air was dry as dust, the surfaces mirror-reflections, water
out the window was calm.
When my in-law turned sixty, his honorary degrees
like Old Master's Paintings were illumined.
My degrees were stuffed in a drawer
Remember how long Januarys used to be, sister,
when you were young-
El Greco makeup heightened things.
Linen is an iron bunny.
And what is Juin? The new linen shop down the block Opening
in bride's month, June.
Will it close like the other ones?
Mulberry ink & rust colors.
The blue heron we came upon reflected like a jacknife
a knitting needle
his beak went down
came up iridescent
shafting dinner, scarcely moving.
Copyright © 2005 Lynn Strongin