Your brother heads off to teach in San Antonio. Before he does, kisses his two kids as they climb the steps of the school bus. Today he will teach Macbeth. Today he will host the creative writing club and they will bring stories and poems and essays and even just words. Jumbled words. Messy words. And eighty miles away a dropout will kill at least twenty-one elementary school students and teachers. All the pretty ones who were someone’s pretty ones. Three states away your best friend heads off to teach in LA. It is spirit day and they wear a hoodie from your alma mater. Today they will add Star Wars decorations to their room. Today they will teach Macbeth. You love your best friend. You love your brother. Suddenly you can hardly stand the love flooding you for your best friend, your brother, neither of whom are beside you but are off teaching Macbeth in different states. A dropout will kill at least twenty-one elementary school students and teachers. In Macbeth, Malcolm says that angels are still bright although the brightest fell. A row of olive-green lockers. A honeybee-yellow backpack. A cerulean hoodie. You think you were never young. What you believe, you’ll wail.
I am Getting Sentimental for an Imagined and Unlikely Future
The deer have come out of hiding, a whole herd of them, they nip
At the edge of the farm. In the house, an accordion plays
And old accordions lay decorative atop the kitchen cabinets
Beneath the vaulted ceilings. Name the tune: I can’t,
Can you? There are no words. The song is so old that even
The young understand it, though maybe don’t know what it means
And who needs meaning anyways. Tune into the swell and breathe
With the long draw of the bellows. Breathe into them, the expanse
Of air. Maybe you will come to know the tune—how the chords
Stand and seiche like rainwater pooled in the trough, maybe
You will know the melody so intimately it will run through you
Like blood, rivering through the sinews of your muscles
And swooshing through the curlicues of your ears and you,
Overwhelmed, that overwhelmed you will be filled with quiver.
Breathe into it; draw your bow beneath its wide vibrato. Outside
The deer, the whole herd of them, lap at the trough water.
The fire licks the cord in the wood stove. In search of the words,
You tongue along the edges of your teeth, the roof of your mouth,
You depress it till the back of it flattens and relaxes. Right now,
Words are unimportant. The voices in the living room fall
Into and out of harmony. Friends make an elegant syntax of movement
Into and out of the room. We sit together on a long bench
At a dining room table. We have it all to ourselves and we talk
To the people across the table. They love jazz, the old stuff,
When chanteuses spun their vibrato at three thousand RPMs,
The centrifugal force of it holding any listener in its seductive orbit,
The trumpets meandering, the drums patient, the clarinets moaning like sex.
In the other room, the trio of the accordion, a bass, and a singer—good god,
That voice—play the songbook like there’s no other book. This is la vie en rose:
Shortly after, the drive home, twisting through thick forest, occasionally
A lake. At last, a small house, red-bricked and gardened. Yes, dear,
There will be deer, though who knows when that will be.
In that part of the county, yes, there will certainly be deer
And the mornings will be fat with animals of all stripes
in the backyard and the flowers will open like a tired fist.
They will ask for your kind hand. And you are free to give it.
And we’ll share a bed and the wind will accordion in the trees.
Then, in the morning, I will bring you a glass of water.