Scratch Music

How many threads have I broken with my teeth. How many times have I looked at the stars and felt ill. Time here is divided into before and since your shuttering in 1978. I remember hanging on to the hood of the big-fendered Olds with a mess of money in my purse. Call that romance. Some memory precedes you when I wanted lederhosen because I’d read Heidi. And how I wanted my folks to build a fallout shelter so I could arrange the cans. And coveting Mother’s muskrat. I remember college. And being in Vista: I asked the librarian in Banks, the state’s tomato capital, if she had any black literature and she said they used to have Little Black Sambo but the white children tore out pages and wrote ugly words inside. Some said if I didn’t like Banks I should go to Moscow. I said, Come on, let’s go outside and shoot the hoop. I’ve got a jones to beat your butt. I haven’t changed. Now if I think of the earth’s origins, I get vertigo. When I think of its death, I fall. I’ve picked up a few things. I know if you want songbirds, plant berry trees. If you don’t want birds, buy a rubber snake. I remember that town with the Alcoa plant I toured. The manager kept referring to the workers as Alcoans. I thought of hundreds of flexible metal beings bent over assemblages. They sparked. What would I do in Moscow. I have these dreams—relatives loom over my bed. We should put her to sleep, Lonnie says. Go home old girl, go home, my aunt says. Why should I go home before her I want to say. But I am bereft. So how is life in the other world. Do you get the news. Are you allowed a pet. But I wanted to show you how I’ve grown, what I know: I keep my bees far from the stable, they can’t stand how horses smell. And I know sooner or later an old house will need a new roof. And more than six years have whistled by since you blew your heart out like a porchlight. Reason and meaning don’t step into another lit spot like a well-meaning stranger with a hat. And mother’s mother, who has lived in the same house ten-times-six years, told me, We didn’t know we had termites until they swarmed. Then we had to pull up the whole floor. “Too late, no more…,” you know the poem. But you, you bastard. You picked up a gun in winter as if it were a hat and you were leaving a restaurant: full, weary, and thankful to be spending the evening with no one.

 

Darren Angle