Table of Contents - Vol. VII, No. 2
Allen M. Weber
The Borrow Pit
When Earle would say, Need you, Little Bro, I’d always come
running—that’s the way it was. On a visit home from the Navy,
he tells a tale of swimming from torpedo tubes, how his men
take fear to folks you’d never read about in the Daily Gazette.
Growing up, Earle could tread water forever—had to be tough
in the pit by the blueberry fields: the water gets dark, real fast;
the steep mud bottom holds your feet, so there’s no way to rest.
A neighbor boy drowned there—cramped up, maybe, slipping
right under, without calling to his friends. We weren’t allowed,
but some nights we’d sneak down, with a six-pack, to skinny-dip
till the farmer’s hounds got to howling and we’d know that soon
the screen door would bang shut, and we’d see his flatbed Ford
as bouncing balls of light, clattering down the dusty path. Tonight
a black Buick glides in—One Nation Under a Groove and something
like joy pulsing from the open windows—some city boys muling
uncut coke from Chicago. I take one look at Earle—those blue lips,
how they stretch across his berry-stained teeth, and even before
he lifts the grocery bag of money and glinting metal from the trunk,
I understand: not everybody’s leaving this field tonight. Then Earle
tosses a shotgun and laughs, Hey Brother, still like to climb trees?
The lonely maple quivers and startles my skin with an earlier rain.
Hugging a lower branch, oiled steel ices my cheek. Between leaves
I make out that Earle’s showing off—got all three flocked together,
bowed down and kneeling, facing the edge of his still moon water.
The Estate Sale
Bargain hunters and the merely curious are expected soon to arrive,
and pieces of Elna’s past will be carried off, like still-warm of carrion,
in accordance with tenuous necessity—funds for a sun-filled,
dry-air retirement home in Arizona. And let’s face it, Michigan
winters are harsh, and for seven springs, the fields have lain unturned.
Too faded to fill the buoyant saffron dress, fanned across her bed,
or to help beloved daffodils prevail against the overrunning weeds,
how could she hope to keep the fusty air from filling vacant rooms?
And everyone knows that it was the indivisible Fred and Freddie
who ran the farm. Fred was the only man to ever make her feel safe,
and Freddie, who was autistic before anyone knew what autism was,
could build an engine and squeeze complex measures from his accordion
with equal skill. In the space of a year, Freddie followed Fred
to an adjacent family plot. It was surely the right of a merciful god
to relieve Elna of sentimentality for possessions and of the obligation
to stay for a son whose every answer was the whisper, I miss my dad.
(In memory of James Vincent Weber)
Guitar picks (the amber mediums he preferred)
discovered while vacuuming under hook-rugs
and between floral couch cushions,
are considered assurance, tokens
to the faithful for whom he once played.
Not known for such
careful cleaning, I am visited
in my sleep. From behind its grief-
tinted windows, he offers flight
in his ’39 Ford
to where the corporal car still rusts
in higher grass and shatters of snow.
There, aware that I can’t bleed
or suffer the cold, he leads
through snarls of feral blackberries—
risen from the ashes of his childhood home—
to uncover the ring that fell from his hand
the summer before I was born.
To Be Wild
Is that rumble from these passing clouds?
No, it’s half a ton of evocative beast
snorting and charging—a conceivable clash.
With you, lovely son, on my shoulders
and so many steps to the paddock fence,
I wrench about in loose, suburban shoes
to face the storm of hooves; I glower
and growl: Whoa! Stomping to a stop
he dips and tosses his head. Generous
with humor, you laugh, reaching for the softness
of his flaring nose. Ah, he’s still a colt!—
I’d forgotten how it is to be wild.
Once we no longer raced our mares through orchards of cherries and
just below the rush of burden-lowered branches—once we no longer crept
together over sighing ice, for a glimpse of promise-green beneath the
Pride, with too many tomorrows, conspired that we’d meet our separate ends.
For a youthful slight, you crossed an avenue to shun, and I’d not cross
Uninvited to your wedding, I sought descriptions of your dress. At the local market
I’d not set down the cantaloupe and join you for a thumping of the
watermelons—like those we won in nighttime garden raids. In this small town
you would’ve heard the very hour each child of mine was born, and know
though your name was once my favorite sound, I didn’t pass it to my daughter
as I often said I would. Today, at last, I met your child—so much like
and lovely as the flowers that surround you now. I’ve learned you spoke so tenderly
and shared renditions of our unfeminine recklessness. Lingering here
her greeting and farewell embrace, I realize, dear friend, how scared we’ve always been.
© Allen M. Weber