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Long before the deep pain’s cure

from the soothing verve of the primping noun.

 

Before a remedy for a heart sorting out

the lost and found.

 

Before the vaccines of verbs

to build immunity against resistant strains

 

of some sharp sorrow

or a joy one can’t contain

 

Long before the x-rayed work

of eager grads

 

weak and underfed in research

or unwilling test subjects, trial cases, guinea pigs

 

it starts with a title – a town

because to wander aimlessly is sin.

 

And the words need a place, a home

to gather ‘round and be.

 

But a home needs a road

a means to get there: taking turns

 

sharply left or right or yielding

one into the next

 

the shortest straight distance

between two points

 

or what will, years down the line,

turn out to be a shortcut

 

through trodden dirt paths:

private moments of natural peace with

 

thorn scrapes and tears

worth the economy of time.

 

Why not a porch – with a particular amount of steps

leading up? And a gate before, perhaps,

 

with two mighty marble pillars or a rusted metal

one with broken whining hinges.

 

And before this home holds life,

before that special corner of each word

 

has light or not, can cast a shadow on that thing

long forgot, or not

 

or broken things which held favour

long before are dwelt upon and

 

pondered in an evening of score

this home must have its rooms:

 

purposeful and only so

or meaningful and rightly so

 

with acrid odours of saccharined trash

unrinsed tins useless to recycle,

 

feline distemper soaked in concave dents

of sofa cushions – a favourite spot

 

of a winsome elder who’s wisdom is long gone.

 

And all these things take time

and several hundred slams

 

of front doors and back doors, bedrooms and baths

granite kitchen countertops and grout

 

still stained with iron-rich blood

that hasn’t quite ceded a bleaching death.

 

Pencil markings for height and radiators sloppy

from melted coloured crayons nagging at our bigotries

 

showing us, “See? We can lay one on the other,

do this melting and have it good.”

 

Rabbit ears, VHS tapes, mismatched flatware and china…

Each closet’s a festering bulge: straining crisscrossed wire hangers,

 

hooks barely hanging on, fabrics feeding

unlarvaed lives and synthetics suffocating

 

in plastic still wrapped yet years home from the cleaners.

 

The words need that time together.

They need that propping up.

 

One against the other

or absent at the moment of some great fall

 

to mourn and sadly look up from a deed

told on lines further back in bleak enjambment of unreconciled guilt –

 

they need the gapping mote

of their own bit of unbreachable peace.

 

On opposite sides of the house:

the he said/she said of

 

I need some space.”

Please, give me just a little more time.”

 

One word will keep its distance

in the worn, armed rocker in the living room.

 

The other word will kneel in the damp dirt

of the cluttered, fertile yard.

 

Of course, it won’t be barren.

Of course, it won’t be seedless.

 

As so little seldom is, or should be

in wild spaces out of doors.

 

 

 

|  Juan-Paolo Perre

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