Burnt hickory smell flavors
the grackle song, the whine
of engines climbing a road.
I turn from a river trail to face
a maple with a long memory.
Below the march of iamb, one
bell rings and has always rung,
one stream slides by, where a monk
dips water, where a song jumps,
bleeding, and a clock calls.
Two of us might get our arms
around it, pressing into its bark
to link hands around so much
time spent on a bit of earth,
girded, crosshatched by roots
and layered with story. We climbed
this trail in rain once, sliding back
with each step. I pointed out trip-
hazards until you yelled at me
and, muddy fools, we laughed,
fell, and fell again. Reach,
darling, around the maple.
I can almost feel your touch.
Late On Her Birthday
The light that left the sun just over eight
minutes ago flares now in your hair, rings
your face and floats above my scotch.
Years ago, on a hillside where the river is
whiskey, a man dreaming liquid smoke
sealed an unblended cask.
back, your grandfather outlived strikes
in Colorado mines to marry, run a store,
and read the papers while he rocked you quiet.
Dead at fifty-nine, he was your first loss.
You speak of him as you drift off
holding my hand.
While the light turns
and turns again, I hold your words, watch
the sky's last splash, and drain the glass.
Michael Lauchlan's most
recent chapbook is Sudden Parade, from Riverside Press. He has had poems
in publications including New England Review, Virginia Quarterly
Review, Victory Park, North
American Review, Ninth Letter, Apple Valley Review, Chiron Review, Natural
Bridge, Collagist, Boxcar, Tampa Review, Cider Press, The Cortland Review, and Poetry Quarterly. He has
been included in Abandon Automobile, from Wayne State University Press
and in A Mind Apart, from Oxford University Press.