It snowed so lightly overnight, yesterday’s news,
wrapped in blue plastic, covered with white flakes,
burdened by history and already useless
and imperceptible this morning,
sits on the icy lawn. Burdened and useless too
is my sense of sight of this grey street, the snow a screen
between my neighbors and me, their shutters and curtains,
their kitchen lights, their intelligence. How lonely,
how lovely it would be to be where no humans live,
no reminders, nor breathing magnets pushing and pulling,
no insistence, yearning to know and dreading knowing,
just the deep dense profundity
of the timeless ocean or the endless sky!
Things on the walls
I’ve been, of late, taking mental pictures in my house
of things on the walls, paintings and knick-knacks and mirrors,
which I’ve seen for years but never really looked at.
I don’t know where most of them came from, trips I suppose
we’ve taken together, but maybe some trips
she took on her own, shopping, or on trips with friends
I didn’t know she had, and she put them up on the walls waiting
for me to notice. If you asked me to close my eyes and
say what was on this wall or that, I wouldn’t get more
than a third right. But I think I’m starting to admire them,
or at least see them and suppose that others must admire
them, or are touched by them, by her, her eye for beauty,
touched by her warmth. Nothing on our walls say anything
about me, nothing I chose or bought, a few drawings of mine,
scattered here or there, that look kind of silly, just as
there are no photos of my family, living or dead.
It would be funny to have a small framed photo
of Aunt Pearl as a young sly Jewish woman
with glistening teasing lips, a random thought about
to emerge from them. I really don’t need to have anyone else,
wouldn’t know where I’d even get them,
a photo of my late lost parents, my distant affectionate sister,
her California children, my Italian-American cousins,
my father’s Sicilian mother looking like she wants to hit
a child with a switch, I don’t seem to be missing any
of them on our shelves or in our breakfast nook
or on the bedroom dresser, except Aunt Pearl would be nice.
I would look at her now and then
and she wouldn’t be out of place.
With nothing to do, he sat in the yard under the sun
With his eyes closed, and thought about the dead.
His mother made the first appearance,
But a changed woman with few expectations,
And in a muslin sundress and with freckled soft shoulders,
She seemed more than content, she seemed made of love,
With words hanging on her lips like purple berries,
And she shared this peace with anyone present,
But he was alone, under the sun, with nothing to do,
So he took it all for himself, the long afternoon;
With so much time, the rest of the dead could wait.
The weather changing, he moved inside
Where Bill was waiting, seated on the edge of a chair
Smoothing his wrinkles; though, in truth,
He was his most beautiful disheveled in the morning,
His legs crossed, his chin in one palm, his elbow
On his knee, his coffee cup in his right hand,
Musing over you with his eyes unplanned and
His lips moving, pulsing, as if listening
To the music of your morning voice, his face
Ageless in its creases.
The rains and winds started;
He watched from the back window, the picnic table umbrella
Keeled and inverted, its spokes to the sky,
And he wondered if it was his father still roaring at him.
Even on some calm days he could, bodily, muster the rumblings
Like a completely separate life within his ribs and stomach
And groin, the storming sources of his powerful breath;
It was uncanny, he couldn’t tell if was his self or his father’s self,
The dead or the living selves.
After the rain he took the dog for a walk,
A terrier, in old age cranky and untouchable,
Each day he wondered when the dog was due to die.
Around the corner a man approached with one shoulder
lower than the other, crooked and awkward,
Toothless and mouth locked in a half-smile.
“It’s one-hundred-and fifty degrees today,” the man bubbled
Then bent down; the dog slowly moved between his feet
And allowed the gnarled fingers to massage her tender ears.
He thought, I can believe almost anything.
This was how he would remember the dog
After she was dead.
© Gary Maggio
Gary Maggio was an English and theater major at the State University at Albany, graduating in 1971. In the last 15 years he’s had poems in a variety of university presses and online publications, including Nimrod International Journal, Re/Verb, New Orleans Review, Notre Dame Review, Rio Grande, South Carolina Review, Literary Bohemian, Camroc Press, Avatar Review, Bryant Literary Review, and The Laughing Dog. He facilitated a group called Capital Region Poets from 2000-2008. He works as an actor (“standardized patient”) for Albany Medical College and is a visual artist who occasionally sells his pastels and oil paintings.