A Poet Reflects

Hush & Taunt
There the story starts & ends, he & the womanlived awhile.  Almost another life.  His betrayals, & laughter.  Mint, & the salt fog. His heart, unsure. Sometimes, long after the river darkened at evening, rippling where the weir lights struck, he like to stand on the cottage porch, studying the surface, watching the tide as it covered the pilings, waiting.  From the living room, a voice, an untamed, calm, Bob Marley’s hush & taunt headlong over the guitars.
Nights waitressing the cocktail lounge she drove home around three. Her hair pulled back, braided into the long auburn rope occasionally tugged on by drunks. Across the river, strobe lights blinked on the power-plant stacks, & a breeze nagged furnace smoke over an orchard, while, below, the invisible apple & pear boughs, in blossom, glistened.                 Or might have, if all the discredited probabilities, the leaps of the romantic, had still been in effect.                        But regardless, he liked to draw the bath, & watch her What did he want, and then again what did he want to tell her? Was it the little dance of desire water did trickling jaw to collarbone?  The leninecy, the taste of skin along the neck?  Or the gesture she made rising from the tub, like a candle guttering & flaring back twice as bright?  There was no telling.                 Lucky for her she left later, moved to El Paso.                             And of the loud wind outside their window, make what you wish—maybe the sound of turbines on the far shore, venting steam—but I heard it as the future, inured, speeding, certain it will always outlast the past, & wanting only …
—David Rivard, from Wise Poison (Graywolf Press, 1996).

Hush & Taunt

There
the story starts & ends, he & the woman
lived awhile.  Almost another life.  His
betrayals, & laughter.  Mint, & the salt fog.
His heart, unsure.
Sometimes, long after the river darkened
at evening, rippling where the weir lights struck,
he like to stand on the cottage porch,
studying the surface, watching
the tide as it covered the pilings,
waiting.  From the living room,
a voice, an untamed, calm, Bob Marley’s
hush & taunt headlong over the guitars.

Nights
waitressing the cocktail lounge
she drove home around three.
Her hair pulled back, braided into the long auburn rope
occasionally tugged on by drunks.
Across the river, strobe lights blinked
on the power-plant stacks, & a breeze nagged furnace smoke
over an orchard, while, below,
the invisible apple & pear boughs, in blossom,
glistened.
                 Or might have,
if all the discredited probabilities, the leaps
of the romantic, had still
been in effect.
                        But regardless,
he liked to draw the bath, & watch her
What did he want,
and then again what did he want
to tell her?
Was it the little dance of desire water did
trickling jaw to collarbone?  The leninecy,
the taste of skin
along the neck?  Or the gesture
she made rising from the tub,
like a candle guttering & flaring back
twice as bright?  There was
no telling.
                 Lucky for her she left later,
moved to El Paso.
                             And of the loud wind
outside their window, make what you wish—maybe
the sound of turbines on the far shore,
venting steam—but I heard it as the future,
inured, speeding, certain
it will always outlast the past, & wanting
only …

—David Rivard, from Wise Poison (Graywolf Press, 1996).

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