Sunday, May 3, 2015

Truck: May 2015: A Poem by Ardith L. Brown

The Transparency of Cats

In 1967 the quarter was new, shiny
and bright in the hands of small children
buying cokes and comics and grape pixie sticks.

I was two, a year before the assassinations and done
in the summer of love.  Now I sit in the kitchen turning
the coin, now smoothed, now millimeters thinner.  

This house was built in 1962 its Pepto-Bismol
paint and avocado linoleum layered beneath
our newly tiled floor and fresh crown molding.

Outside hail bullets the roof, and because pine trees
in Georgia grow so alarmingly tall, like match-
sticks, brittle and ready to snap or upend

in a storm, I stand and pause as I hear limbs falling.  
Wet, determined thumps, as though magnets pulled them
down, bodies on the dangerous and damaged ground

stilled by soft grass and fire ants.
Soon the team arrived: a simian swarm, piling
out of vans and pickups with chainsaws, blades, ropes,

pulleys-- forces capable of felling the eighteen pines
in our neighbor’s yard, some living, some dead,
New green needles pricking the September breeze;

the old branches, too, naked and gnarled with arthritis
fingers, hands twisted in atrophy and decay, fighting
from above the impulse to let go, still clutching

the sky. But then the cutters ascended, razing trunks
and members in single eight foot sections. Oh, sweet
destruction, alacrity of sparrows, violence of war.

Meanwhile feral kittens played among the machinery:
calico and marmalade, tabby and tuxedo, they ran
between backhoes and stump grinders, waiting

patiently as the world crashed down upon them,
seeking safety in their den under the crawl space.
They lingered in that womb music with spiders

and roaches, letting loose a sound like weeping mothers do.
I shut the door and closed the noise out with the glass.
I thought about the child we wouldn't have, the pines

forever lost, and in the painful
absence of trees, all I could do
was listen to the mournful lot.


Ardith L. Brown currently resides in Flannery O'Connor's hometown of Milledgeville, GA, but she doesn't forget New Mexico.  When she is not wrangling family or grading papers, she writes poems.  She has a B.A. in Poetry from UNM, an M.A. in Literature from the University of Houston, and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Georgia College & State University. She misses green chile, mountains, and liberals.

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