Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Common Cold

The sun still comes up
and that’s a surprise each morning,
but it comes up gray now.
Or not quite gray, but that liquid color
that mist makes when it’s part of the sky
and when it stays.
It’s streaked with something like yellow
that teases like daffodils
on something I’ve heard was called
But it’s just the gray that stays,
and nothing smells as lemon
as the taste s-u-n left on my lips.
The gray lives here now,
hovering just below my mother’s ears
and chin and right above her neck.
The fog like a slice
like a quarter moon
slits her throat,
clean and round and full and smooth.
                                At least we would see red again.

But she is all body now,
head bobbing intermittently
out of the shadows to drop
her skull into her bony hands
or to kiss and breathe where my bicep
still feels like child flesh.
So this is the apocalypse.
Next year—if we make it that long—
if I am luckier than the neighbor
                                     I will grow taller.

And the next year I will stretch to learn
that gray world my mother knows.
Even now, if I wake up at that name-damned
wet time between night and morning
I can stand on my toes,
and press the dirt
and lengthen my neck,
grown thinner each day,
and stick my nose in the fog.
Nevermind I can’t breathe for shit
as people used to say
about things like sinus infections
and “the common cold.”
The cans ran out last summer.
They said we were a dry street,
this fall.
But that wasn’t so bad.
We found things here and there
that mimicked popcorn and artichokes.
That required scraping and taking chances,
but summer was hot
and no one felt hungry.
At least we never mentioned
it with our mouths.
And autumn just ran on adrenaline
and hopes of fading
and not fading.
But winter was hard. 
So fucking hard.
No one cares that we say that now.
Maybe it’s always been that way,
when kids, all long legs
and lank hair
slink behind old
sinking wooden houses
and say things like “fucking.”
                               But we say it now.
I say it when I go to bed,
say it under my breath when waking.
This morning, I took that
talk of fucking and went to
where the garden used to be.
I feel like a child
and I stop saying it.

I drop to my knees,
and the earth is cool.
And I stick my fingers in it.
No one notices dirty nails.
They won’t know I’ve been here
if I level it later.
They are all up there
above fog anyway.

And it feels like night.
Cool and fresh
after hot days
I hardly remember.
And I think of those orbs
of white—fertilizer.
And the days when green
came out of brown.
And the feeling of soil
that was really moist.
Almost like soup—mud.
And how that made living things.
And how plants need
rain and sun like tit for tat.
And how it feels to bake
and then grow damp again.
                                 Then bake.

It’s cool in the dirt,
and the ground is smooth.
We’ve made sure of that.
We want to know what grows.
If anything changes at all.
If anything comes up this year.

This dry, dry fucking year.
                   We watch and wait
                                     for the ground to change.