The sun misunderstands
and shines a gold circle on the carpet.
The laundry still needs washing.
Such strangeness—the fly
beats his body, iridescent blackness,
against the bright window. Across
the street a child yells wait, muffled beyond
the glass. The silent 20-year-old cat watches
the fly. One still, one repetitively
fervent, both the same outcome.
I. The verbs dominate:
grieving and weeping and wishing.
They are uninvited soldiers who stay too long,
their leaden “ings”
wrapping around tired necks,
draping like weapons over hunched shoulders.
These soldiers ignore the signs to leave:
The pineapple rots on the mantle.
The broom rests by the door.
Tell them to go.
When will the nouns
return for you? The sun,
the blackberries, the salt?
Perhaps it isn’t the season quite yet.
Each month is
a little like September now,
its lingering aftertaste
like dusty ground.
Will you ever feel the same
about autumn leaves? About
pumpkins and the way they age so
defiantly on the front step?
The kitchen window
is the same
The streets laid out
in neat lines
are the same
The maple is tall and solid like his arms.
The cicadas quiet in the cul-de-sac as if they know.
People still love June;
human skin still absorbs the rain;
the highlands of Scotland still wear your footprints.
the nouns when
your voice returns,
feel them roll off your tongue
like the color white,
not ordinary, not an afterthought—
beautiful hydrangeas and mussels and clouds.
II. Whenever you can,
that solid white noun
that chant and prayer.
to those silent faces still heavy
with their verbs.Engrave
it at the tideline,
it into the wind;write
it into the dust on the desk,
it into the birch,
it in the air with your finger, whisper
it into the corner.
Become a nest, a one-syllable noun,
a resting place for him,
a place to build
your solace piece by piece
in your chest. Fill it
with bright things:
poppies and daylight and fragility.
Paige Riehl’s poetry and prose have appeared in several literary publications, including Meridian, the Saint Paul Almanac, South Dakota Review, and Nimrod. She won first place in the 2011 Literal Latte Poetry Contest and was a finalist for the 2011 Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry and a semifinalist for the 2011 River Styx International Poetry Contest. Paige was also selected for the 2012 Loft Mentor Series in Poetry sponsored by the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis. She lives in St. Paul.