Questioned 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.