George Bishop

(approaching sixty)

They come with a nap attached
now. A condition. They begin
by passing on lunch and agree
with nothing. They survive best
between promises.

They love catching a drop of rain
between two thoughts and pulling
off its wings, listening to dreams
rehearse and feeling themselves
vanish like a prayer.

The low ceiling of the bedroom
is made of flooring. They pace
the worn wood, pause at a cigarette burn—
then sit in a corner where the finish
remains glossy. I imagine a grandfather
clock there, my image deep in the grain.

(visiting a friend’s grandmother)

Nearly hidden behind the bleached linen
she studies the dark figures of leaves
quivering on the Formica night stand.
Her dying had almost no life left—
her breathing shallow, quick
as if the mechanical bed were chasing her
around a cell of brittle bones. They said
her dreams were becoming longer, more

This is the only room her face fits in now—
she's a spot in a spotless space.
Everything's measured except her hope
of being carried off this sterile shelf
by the dust only the sun seems to find.
It's what she waits for. Wants
to pray for.
Not far away she gave birth,
I believe, when the only shadows
next to her were the hands of a clock,
when each branch in the window was a wand.
I'm sure when the leaves fell it was almost heavenly—
she must've come so close
to flying.

Born in Philadelphia, George Bishop was raised on the Jersey Shore and attended Rutgers University. He relocated to Florida in 1985. Recent poems have appeared in The Comstock Review, White Pelican Review and will be forthcoming in Boston Literary Magazine.



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