All the talk, murmurs rushing from room to room
anxious dogs unable to please, dark clothes, suppressed
expressions, napkins and finger foods piling up,
glasses clinking in the kitchen sink with no one around
just the weight of all those dirty vessels settling.
A spoon tinkles to the floor and everyone looks up –
is someone going to make a speech – there’s nothing new
to say. it’s bad when you have to attend but worse
when you were an intimate of the deceased. eyes
are turned on you, scour you, pry for an entry
into your sadness, to lick at the salt of blood and tears.
I got out of that house, its stink of over-boiled coffee,
grand failure of a hundred subtle perfumes at war,
a conflagration darkening an already murky atmosphere.
Outside the house a short walk through a muddy
sideyard out a gated fence populated by a gnome’s fantasy
of shelf fungi, a gently sloping lawn, a picture postcard
of Ireland – even green grass, a rustic bench, an irregular
lake with variegated foliage rising steeply on the other side.
I sat and let the bafflement roll over me. mortal thoughts
with only a thin shield of inner delusion protecting my immortality.
a grand day, fierce winds high in the atmosphere having
routed the thick early morning clouds until only feathery darts
remained, rolling west to east giving the afternoon
two shades of gold. I undid starchy buttons and offered
the day my sternum, let the natural heat of sunlight supplant
a rotten poultice made of grief and close human contact. light
massaged my eyes, my consciousness began to ripple,
I began to nod and realized how odd it would seem to be found
sleeping like a drunk thrown over a bench so I sat forward,
noticed the puddle within the concrete footing and a fat
grasshopper on its side. it moved by twitching its mouth parts
working as if desperate to unleash all its knowledge on the world,
its crooked hind legs caught up in a loop of thread.
I reached down wanting to help free the insect, imagining
some sect of kids binding its kind as a gladiatorial amusement,
then realized that the thread, brown as horse hair, was growing,
unspooling out of the hopper’s gibbous abdomen, twisting
the chitinous body around the puddle’s verge, and as I watched,
spun it fully into the water, the hopper’s antennae waving,
desperate, pained, until the thread completely emerged, straightened,
then wriggled away leaving the slowly stilling husk behind.
the sun was still as bright, it warmed my body, even so
I covered up, the perfection of the metaphor making me ill.
I marched back into the house and found my wife cornered
by a murder of crones, made our excuses, and fled,
drove our car to the first hotel we could find, a place
made sterile by its average features, a place we were
unknown, and refused to give a reason why, just pulled
off our clothes and pulled us into bed so I could finally cry.