March 2013

Unexpected Ghost

listen to this poem
 
I pedal Julia through back roads
to day camp. Heat rises
from the fresh blacktop.
The scents of June—honeysuckle
and blooming grasses—perfume the air.

From her dusty seat behind me,
she calls out: “Momma, what are eyes?”
“They are for seeing.”
“Can you have eyes and not see?”
“Then you are called blind.”

A pair of scarlet tanagers darts
among stands of birch and pine.
Bridal veil tumbles wild
in the overgrowth between lots
where newly constructed mansions
have begun to appear. A half-grown
doe turns her head to watch us pass.

“What is it called when you have ears but can’t hear?”
“Deaf.”
“Death?”
“Deaf-f-f-f.”
“Death?”

I prop the bike against the kickstand
and send her off with a kiss at the door.
On my way back I see a fledgling caught
in the trailer’s wheel. I pull
its taut, light body from the spoke.