Another summer, another morning of separation, Another crossing to the far shore of the underworld. What I need is a potion, something that says I’ve paid My dues, something that will return the children From the wilderness of the camps, something That will help me understand the language of angels. The potion should be a mixture, you know, eye Of snake, spider’s tongue, perhaps Billy Budd’s ascension “Into the full rose of dawn,” Wavy Gravy’s sky-bound eulogy At Goldie’s wake that fall day in Bolinas, and the winter night I spun the car off the road and into a ditch Outside Tucson. No one was hurt but it took us Out of ourselves, if only for a moment, looking up Into the snowfall, and the cold, gray Sky hovering over us. Maybe I can recover those magical Properties I’ve dreamed of: Sunlight that heals the sores Of those who have lain so long in bed, a breeze That turns castles to sheets of glass, and poison that erases the grotesque Smiles of those who are sure they’re right. After all, the hours Are starting to come down from the plane trees, And the burls of clouds have found their way Back, and the gleam of the strawberry moon Puts politics to shame, puts its stamp on the ruins Of our hearts, that says, “I am not your enemy.” I recall old men, In December, 1951, standing on the banks of the Naches River, Watching the red wooden bobbers for the bites of whitefish, Holding the bait, live maggots, in their cheeks To keep them warm. Such are dreams, some lost Along the way, some remain, some permanent As scars.
Thomas Brush’s first poems were published in Poetry Northwest in 1970. He has received creative writing grants from the NEA, Washington State Arts Commission, and Artist Trust. His most recently books, from Lynx House Press, are God’s Laughter (2018), Open Heart (2015), and Last Night, winner of the Blue Lynx Prize (2012).
Header photo by James Wheeler, courtesy Pixabay. Photo of Thomas Brush by Duane Thurman.