P. Ivan Young


Lines of needle scrape
the silent shade

as if something should be
made, but isn't.

The shapes on the forest floor
want more

color, a bit more growth
and sun, the green dragon

undone by the woven
mat the loblolly's made,

the spider wort's lavender
bloom will not unfurl

in the wooded gloom.  
The scene is full

of need to brighten to a degree,
or is it me that wants

words like bright birds
skittering on the russet floor.

Isn't that what they're for?  
The nuthatch sings laments

to the barren sky,
a bunting's light whistle

in the trees?  The pine
stretches long and soft

into a penciled canopy
of greens:  mint and emerald,

jade and verdigris.
In the coy fan the sun has made

only the merry bells dare
a damp bit of soil

where the cloy of skunk
cabbage fills the air.

Seasonal Pieces (After a Summer of Loss)

—In memory of Woody and Arnold

I.  Driveway Angel

Pastel chalks
rubbed into wings

too small
for the body,

skirt as pink
as a fairy's.

The purple wand
waves ants

into scatters
and heat rises

like a soul.
Weeds push

through the skin
of tarmac

and a breeze
carries dust away.

The rain is
coming.  The rain

is coming.

II.  A Question of Spring

What were we doing that spring
the hostas surrendered  to weeds.
The flower beds were in need
of water and we seemed to be waiting
for irises.  You often cried
and sometimes let your fingers
spider in the fronds and linger
on the buds.  "Rain will come," I lied

or maybe I thought a storm
was an answer to the listless days
we spent with flowers, grasping
earth as if our hands could form
a shield, as if the hose's spray
could open hyacinth like children eating.

III.  Tomatoes Out of Season

Fall came to my body
first, not in leaves
but whispers.  The sassafras
branches played a game
of whips and we said
each other's names

quietly while we waited
in the dark for sleep.
We had put tomatoes
in paper bags to ripen
and so on the first day
cold frosted the windows

you opened this rare chrysalis,
tang of mouth-watering summer.
When you sliced into the flesh
I wanted to stop you
just to say I knew this
couldn't last, but instead

we laid the delicate pieces
on buttered bread and filled
our mouths until juice
glimmered on our lips
and there was no way
we could speak.

IV.  A Winter Matins

The snowman doesn't care
it is reduced by the ribboned air,
happy only the world is white.

Beneath the weight, the eglantine rose,
the basil leaf and concord grape
no longer grow.  I could hold you
in this window, looking out on the cold
ground, and praise the silence,
consecrate the wool sweater
that you wear, bow my head
to your hair and inhale eucalyptus.

We will sleep when night comes,
when senses dim and the dark
awakes, when whatever reverences
we make are of no concern.
But now, watching the eaves
adorned by ice, we hold hands

and with measured breath
forgive this world for death.

Ivan Young studied with the late James Dickey at the University of South Carolina, where he received his MFA, and is a 2011 winner of the Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Award.  He currently is an Instructor of Poetry and Creative Writing at Salisbury University in Salisbury, Maryland. His most recent publications can be found in Crab Orchard Review, Undefined Magazine, Barnwood, Blue Mesa Review, Buzzard Picnic, The London Magazine, Cream City Review, and Fourteen Hills.



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