Amanda Beebox, here is the second.
How To Get There
Take the red road. Call it good. See
the girl you left behind there, her bees
and berries. Forget your shoes
and cities – she is alone and you
are alone. She will not turn, she
is determined, slight but brave,
and too busy yearning for the gypsy
dog who couldn’t make this trip. Not his yet.
Comfort, he’s called, he waits in the loam
and brittle leaf stars under the porch,
below a house that lists against the jumble
of second-hand haunts and the weight of make-do.
The shotgun shabby where you and she
began. That’s your father in your father’s
old sprung chair, staring at a stolen
television and flicking the lid of his lighter,
open, closed. And there’s your mother,
pacing in the dim and filmy kitchen,
burning with rage like a nest woven of hair.
Comfort’s legs flicker in the dream
field; he sees your tire-swing wind-twirling
but hollow, no you; and late lightning; God’s carbon eye.
He cries against it, paws dancing, this heartsick
sense of all of it, and of the razor-beaked V in the sky.
The dog is right to twitch and sigh.
On a steady current, anxious for the
sight of you, the shine of you: hair
and hazel eyes and the buttons
on an old gingham dress, the hawk
is gliding your way; an archaic
conflation of flight and contempt.
Earth has lost its exertion, he is Newton’s lawless.
He circles and bays his single, cherished word: mine.
Mine: the young, the panic in the grass.
Mine, the girl who rustles the red dust,
kicks a piece of broken glass without
ever breaking stride, whistles tuneless through
her teeth. Do not glance up at him, as she does not,
the urge to hide is a fool’s pretension, as his shadow
overtakes you, singes your best, lost intentions.
Keep pace behind her, never betray her:
you are your own future, after all. Pay attention;
honor the way she will not falter,
how she holds her chin high, because
just ahead, just there, is the county line, four
directions that meet in a neutral square.
North and south are numbered by the age
at which you die. So are east and west.
You are almost there. Most people choose
the simplest phrase, to ease the way: At
least I did my best.
Then again, you could take the broken road,
it is the same road. She’s walking alone
there, too. Time. You. One shimmering
step in and you forget her face; with the second step
she disappears, vanished into air as sure as the tune
she whistled, or the wings of a fairy. Try to recall
something quickly, the real falls so fast. Without
one sweet story to tell about that little girl, the past
will impale you and leave you dying on the barb.
And then you have it! An image, small as a seed rolling
on a vast plain. Spring, the wild and thorny bushes,
a drone deep in the flowers, and a blue bowl she carried:
Fragile memory: she loved honey bees and black berries.