Allen M. Weber
Talked to your mama at the grocery store—
tried to slip by me in the canned soup aisle.
She said you’d married. Sold the horses. Moved
north, where hardwoods line the Escanaba.
Down here, an orange X marks our maple:
Wrapped in an Indian blanket—still damp
with the syrupy scent of your mare—we
made vows beneath its budding canopy.
My father, laid off from the GM plant,
sold the back thirty to a logging firm.
They’ve dozed an earthen bridge—a portage
for harvesters, a dead end for salmon.
Remember the first thirty-pounder snagged
from Black River—a cock; hens followed, fat
with roe. We ran for the mist of the falls,
urging their last whitewater leaps toward home.
Snow melt gorged our secret creek; river-wide,
splitting the old growth woods, shallows churned
so red with Chinook, we’d a notion to
trip bank to bank across their writhing backs.
I helped my grandma down the salted walk,
into the van that Uncle Dallas warmed
ten minutes ago. I laid the hickory cane
across her lap, kissed her cheek, and told her
I loved her before sliding shut the door.
My wife has passed to me her family
tradition of watching departing guests—
waving until they're out of sight—a rite
of Southern courtesy and contemplation
I practice now without a coat or hat.
I'll wait till distance veils the engine’s hum
and I can hear the workings of my heart.
Lake-effect snow sways and kisses my cheeks;
mother cloud—swirling silver—envelops,
briefly, Venus and then the waxing moon.
In shared stillness, the wilder residents
of our refuge—Canadian geese and
mallards—huddle in bulrush near the pond
where the ice is thin. The basest desires
plot parallel tales of wintering here.
Consider the peevish pair of mute swans:
the cob, waving a mangled wing, postures
and hisses to keep his pen. Why does she
prolong the myth of swan monogamy?
By acts, not reason, he's most inspired.
By the fire, my Virginia girl enthralls
her grateful in-laws with musical wit.
Laughter rises with smoke from the chimney.
I wave as the taillights wink and dissolve
into a far copse of blue, snow-lit spruce.
The Lingering Sounds of Skipping Stones
As he sits on the hood of his rented car,
the breezes come remembered, redolent
with tanning lotions and alewife.
Boats retire from the freshwater horizon—
sway, marina bound, down Black River.
His mind follows, past the dancing
sedge and orange silhouettes—legs
scissor, emerge free of a slip-less dress.
As her toes throw the cooling sand—
the sun loses interest in another day;
in descent, its arc briefly flames
the side-armed stone. Flat and tumbled
smooth, it breaks the tension of the surface
again and again and again; winking,
concentric eyes fade into the swells.
As they always have, some lovers weave
between the last fishermen on the pier
while others wade, ankle deep.
A younger man holds her shadow
upon his shoulders. The joy of living:
their laughter echoes like bells.
And as they always have, the gulls
mock cries of mirth or sadness
while they navigate the fading heat.
|Allen M. Weber was the winner of the 2011 Edgar Allan Poe Memorial Prize. His poems have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies—most recently in Naugatuck River Review, Loch Raven Review, The Quotable, Snakeskin, Prick of the Spindle, Lyrical Reflections of the Great Lakes, and The Burning of the Leaves.