A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature
The blood-drops kept a wild berry hue
long in the wet air. These beads
were not a criminal’s until he drank his way
into our temperate women’s till. Or his fist did.
“How did you hurt your hand?” the officer asked.
Gin blamed a pane. He’d passed his ragged grab
through our dormer on the night.
Below, the flagstones and the money bled.
We called it a woman’s pattern, Drunkard’s Path.
He spat an obscenity at the EMT.
During their struggle, I didn’t shake at all.
Someone had to wait there.
So I slouched reading a Chinese dictionary
in the library after police took him
away. Page on page labored to translate
mankind. “Unreasonable” was one slant; “sympathy”
another. “In a crisis a man becomes wise.” But also,
“The man and his lute are both dead.”
The heavy reference had meant to edify, the lute
is a symbol for a friend, all of whose parts
may be seized at once and strung onto a gurney.
From the table I selected a Big Book:
“The more hopeless he feels, the better.”
Bill W. knew a man who grew to embrace his life —
“Finally, out of his hope, their burst conviction.”
I have seen that bursting too — an organic form,
the prickly blood, spiked spheres, winter pods afloat in rain,
the pool of friends in a ring at meetings.
“How did you hurt your wrist?” The cop suspecting me
of more than carpal nerves said late another battered
day closing down. I mimed fending off a bag of angry
candy and a rubber crowbar from a paramour.
“Don’t hit yourself,” he said. “OK, by writing,”
I confessed. I hoped he was afraid: “By writing lies.”
Published in Certain Uncollected Poems by Sandra McPherson. Ostrakon Press, 2012.