The Innisfree Poetry Journal
by Peter Serchuk
Better that I’ve kept you where
you were, twenty-three forever,
spared laugh lines, stretch marks
and menopause, quarantined
from thirty years of diets
You were a girl with a plan
and I could barely read a map.
You were tapping your foot for
tomorrow, ready to shout your name,
and I was clutching at your yesterday
hoping nothing would change.
But everything changes except
the mirror. Faces gallop past
like small towns from a train.
Lovers share dreams and kisses
in fields along the road and wonder
if the starry sky will ever look the same.
Perhaps your flag is famous now,
too high for me to know. I hope
your eyes still daze someone if the
buttons won’t quite close. I still see
those eyes when the sky goes dark.
I’ve kept the girl who stole my heart.
In the Next Canyon
In the next canyon the fires are fierce.
Winds hurl their lasso hill to hill, gorging
on brush, hissing like snakes, a streak
of tigers leaping walls and ravines
to hunt down the houses below.
Road signs have warned us to keep out
but we can’t contain our own heat.
So we drive in the back way,
through the closed park, up the tire-chewing
dirt road until we kill the engine and roll
to a stop just blocks from the flashing lights.
We inch our way closer.
What is it we’ve come to see?
Firehawks water-bomb slopes, police cars
barricade streets, while armies of yellow
and red attack with their axes and ropes,
with their ladders and hoses block by block,
house by house. The sky is surreal, Van Gogh’s
Starry Night turned orange and black.
We fight back the smoke and heat, live in
the sweat, throats raw, eyes bloodshot.
We hide in the pandemonium.
Minutes pass. Two hours pass.
Soon the wind begins to doze and more trucks
unwind their hose to seize the upper hand.
The curtain of smoke sways then lifts.
No longer invisible, firefighters see us
and our teary eyes, take us for homeowners,
victims, people suddenly homeless,
possessions reduced to memory and ash.
Some nod their sympathy, offer regrets.
We can’t bear to speak the truth or repel
their kindness. Stunned into silence, we lower
our heads, wait until the street begins to clear
then slip back into the dark, into the night,
our car, back to our safe and quiet home,
repeating over and over, for no good reason,
Everything’s going to be all right.
Copyright 2006-2012 by Cook Communication