Sunday, June 15, 2014

either you get it, or you don't

No Hunter in the Field
By Karen Connolly, from "Come, Cold River" (you can buy it here)

now comes the part
where the father
lies dying

at last

this part has taken
my whole life to arrive
I've waited for it
like a child starved
for Christmas

forgiveness is

the old man
coughing up
the slag in his lungs
his face hollowed out
ashen with the work of it

his fingers are gnarled
but they grip the steering wheel steadily
hold fast against gusts of wind
feints of ice
he knows the road with his body

he drives himself
towards death
wearily, irritated
by the traffic
for crissake these assholes
never signal

(though after the poem
he will rally. typical.
he will go to white sand,
blue sea, Thailand,
and lie down
with a black-haired woman)

but today I believe he will not survive
the winter. so it's kind of him
to drive me
back to the house
for Christmas dinner
the first one I've been to
in a decade

the animals
will be cooked
before I arrive
nothing has to be gutted
or plucked, thank God

forgiveness is

that the car
smells so strongly of him
cement dust

I thought that the smells
would diminish with him
stranger still is the

I glance around as we drive
digging to find the old fury
that shakes the body
ruptures mind underskin
thoat caving in hammering shut -

but it's cast out of  me
no demon between us
no hunter in the field

just blown snow
under herringbone sky
I sit beside an old man
who cannot hurt me

forgiveness is -


a deer no one
has ever tracked

the coyote I glimpsed many times
but could not touch until now

the long spine of grass piercing snow

the ribs of an old fence

the lone grace
                         of a tree
                                        out there
                                        speaking plainly

                                        here is a way to stand
                                        in the world

and when I push open the door
the ice-splash
of wind in my face
is forgiveness
                       wake up, you are alive

this air! this freezing air
floods my nose
my throat

yes! come
cold river
rush in