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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Possibilities (Beckian Fritz Goldberg)

After a wife’s death a man may talk
to his horse with a great tenderness
as if, just this morning, he had tried on
her pink slipper. And if he has no horse
he may crack his window a little
wider when it lightly rains to confirm
the roofs and trees are made
of paper. If there is no rain
he may make himself a meal at midnight,
sweet artichokes and Danish cheese,
a glass of red wine. If there is
no red, then white. He may suck the knife
clean with his tongue. Later

lying awake he may hear the wild lung
of a motorcycle far off on a far road.
If there is no motorcycle, a dog
trying for any syllable in any known
language. Something falling suddenly in
the closet, according to some law.

Nearness in the dark is a kind of beauty
though it is only a lampshade, a shoulder
of the walnut chair. If there is no chair,
then a shelf. A shelf of books with the devil’s
violet fedora tossed on top. Or something
exotic from the sea, manta ray

like the pulse in the ball of his foot.
A man may walk ten steps behind
his life. It may be sorrow of fear.
He may see her back like two doves rushing
up where a boy has flung a handful
of pebbles. If no pebbles, leaves
where a masked prowler hunches, his belt of
lockpicks, his bag of velvet like the one
from which memory snatches. These are

the possibilities, the immaculate
like miracles which are nothing
in themselves, but in this world a sign
of angels, ghosts, supernatural beings
who watch us. Who listen. Who sometimes
helplessly let us stumble on
their pyramids, their crude observatories
or let us, generation after
generation, speak to the broken horse
of the human heart.

A Child Wakes in the Middle of the Night (Karen Benke)

Standing at my bed he whispers, Mama,
then grips my hand, explaining
You have to come quick—Right now.
It’s important, he says, leading me out the back door,
wind cartwheeling through wet grass
where he says I must go to help him
find the rock his father gave him, the one he dropped
into the make-believe pond he was fishing,
moonlight spilling into the redwoods
where I find myself wrapped in a white robe,
each of my tired uh-huhs confirming his belief
in the invisible world he insists I travel—
his young life overgrown with curiosity, Blackbird’s flight
a shadow I pray will protect him, as he finds his way
through the miles of stories he loves—
Not from a book, from your mouth, he demands,
asking if I’ll tell him how, when I was little
and couldn’t sleep, my mama let me retrace my steps
through a rainy garden, to find what I thought I had lost.