George Perreault

icomen in

   For she koude of that art the olde daunce.
   –Geoffrey Chaucer

summer is nothing straight and still,
even for elders the big doors fling open

bodies tumbling into such rich provision
nothing could leave the next day poor

skies keep piling aboven wunders
and the whole purpose of being is only

– my god, just look at you –
at august end, broun as a berye

gossamer seconds where worlds hang
between us as nothing, some medieval

minstrel’s tale on the breeze filled
with green knights and magic cloaks

now is why princes raise dark towers,
why fools bleed into the bruised amour

of love, whatever was treasured before,
the whole chest, offered up for this:

the bronzed yield of summer beguiling
the next witless heart which already

is turning a pillar of salt –
that’s all it ever takes

walking the dry ditch

easter’s late this year, and catkins
will have long set sail, but new water

should be running then, clean and free,
the gates filling each field with a smile,

and this mud-pressed leaf might become,
perhaps in a million years, another fossil:

ginkgo biloba, a survivor from the Jurassic,
its dichotomous venation as ancient as ferns,

so i’m trying for the long view here:
how healthcare will break into flower

when the us becomes as sacred as me,
thinking the mass in my wife’s throat

is probably follicular and not anaplastic,
seeing the wind ensemble play through

the death of five kids at their high school,
the suicide, the overdoses, and now

two murders, how i was glad i’d forgotten
my glasses, how everything’s like Monet,

down to the smear of the trumpeters’ cheeks,
and it’s opening day in Quemado again,

that funeral for three girls after their pick-up
rolled coming back from the county fair,

the youngest dying in the ambulance, held
by her mother, a responding EMT.

there comes a time Amazing Grace will
make you sick to your stomach, when

you’ll have to punch off Fire and Rain,
pull over for Springsteen’s Philadelphia.

but i’m trying for the long view today: how
sometimes those medical stories my wife

watches are true, all the sassy nurses and
heroic doctors, odds are, odds are, even

if the ones i’ve loved the most, they just
went into the hospital and died, it’s not

always like that, sometimes parts will avail
as an offering, and then too at Hiroshima

the ginkgos came back from the blast, these
remarkable beings, three times as many

DNA letters as us, their meristems pulsing
new growth, keeping each one young though

some of them are older than Christ, so maybe
this wife doesn’t have to die, and this child

doesn’t have to die before i do, and no doubt
a few others will break their fathers’ hearts, still

this one is telling me if Woody wrote Deportee
it probably was twangy, but Jimmy LaFave,

see where he folds in some accordion and bass,
that penny whistle brimming with the Gaelic

of midnight rain on cobblestone, and that
catch in his voice, the phrasing: sure it’s from

the forties, but really, nothing has changed,
both sides of the border, we die just the same.

it’s how death hunts us, kid, like rustlers,
like thieves, so welcome to the long view

where clouded leopards still haunt the gingko
forests, secret and nocturnal as a human heart,

listen in those deep ravines where the night
cries out with music so like our own, songs

to shoulder each other’s pain, songs that
without an us there’s no reason for a me.

George Perreault has published in journals and anthologies in the US and internationally. His latest book, Bodark County, is a collection of poems in the voices of characters living on the Llano Estacado in West Texas.

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