James Scannell McCormick

     My secret: Under a mound that you shall never find.
     – Masters

At mind’s edge, or vineyard’s:  Between the rows
Of pebbly LaCrescents, a quick shimmer, a flick
Beneath a Raspberry Moon begun to rise
In twilight color of swallows’ throats and backs – 

Could that be it?  Or maybe, midnight sky,
Zenith skittish with heat lightning:  A face,
A voice – familiar, urgent – just as the key
Drops from the lock?  You look.  Look for.  Are you close?

Afield?  And noon, a curve of a dozy road
In warmth and chalky air, a stirring, a chill – 
In poplars’ cotton, an eddy’s eye:  Do you read – 
Unclearly – ciphers, signs?  Of what?  Are you still

Unmarked – an x-less spot? a grave, a hoard
Of bewildered bones? a page haunted by words?

The Reverend’s Death
     Everything is what it is and not another thing.
     – Bishop Butler

Like a terrier, Mother, grim, would sigh, with a rag.
She meant when I’d get a “notion” involving tea,
Schumann…  But Father’s ending didn’t drag:
He died young, away in a clinic.  And she?

She remained unmarried.  So why compare?
I learned that Alzheimer’s starts with endings, grows
By loss.  At first the Reverend couldn’t square
His where with why.  Then who.  “Do you suppose

It must be like…” my daughter would begin.
“It isn’t like.  It is,” I’d have to say.
His body betrayed no sign of giving in.
He’d have lived and lived.  And so I found my way.

Of those who will want to damn me for what I’ve done,
Of this I’m sure:  My husband will not be one.

James Scannell McCormick’s third book of poetry is First of Pisces (Kelsay Books).  He lives and teaches college English in Rochester, Minnesota.