Beyond the Crepe Myrtles, Blue Yodel
The snake in his new outfit coiled and shivered.
The mockingbird from high in the live oak mocked.
Mama on the porch rocker cleaned her two barrel
and sang how looping a skin over the rail top
might make a stubborn sky shake down a spurt of rain.
No bonbons or violins, but a busy evening
just the same: cornbread, birdsong, sweet potato pie
and the greedy star-glint of a diamondback’s eye.
Roses on the hedge shook like the passing of a ghost.
I scribbled every moment in my Blue Horse book,
a stay-at-home girl dead-set no life’s lesson be lost.
Old Shot ran his knife blade along the guitar neck
till the sweaty steel of six strings quaked and whined.
No prophet happened by to spit out a wisecrack.
Lightning in the key of C, a weapon on the frets.
A yodel quavered in my tongue. Pearls before swine.
Under the bird perch the serpent commenced to climb.
Between the thumb and trigger finger, the silk of time.
The peacock’s shriek blistering the midnight air,
the roar they always claim mimics a freight train
rounding the bend. Hurricanes south and west,
though too distant to raise concern, but I wake
to the emperor bird crying murder again,
and mother at the door all frazzle and panic
is saying, “The funnel is coming. His vengeance,
girl. We’ve got to barn the livestock and reach
the cellar,” but this time I answer, Animals
be damned, and head for the stairs, my nightgown
shiny with sleep’s friction and now flowing.
In the flecking mirror: my motion’s ghost.
Across the field, an apparition spits its voice.
I give one thought to the files of twined letters
and unfinished fictions, the Royal typewriter
with its twenty-six demons. There are moments
when soul matters less than breath, and I imagine
the frayed pages of savage comedy all swirled
like a magician’s trick, the lame and the halt,
prophets and blessed dimwits all gone to chaos,
every plot giving way to blather and howl.
In the final count, story is just another affliction,
the illusion a grand scheme is within our ken.
With the weather almost sideways, peach trees
losing their blooms, our modest garden shaking
like the Second Coming and the sentry bird gone
who-knows-where, I can hear the Ecclesiast whisper
Vanity, vanity! I have to laugh, till my Parent
pulls me underground and bolts the door. Scent
of clay and mold, decaying spores. Are we
both Persephone now? No lamp or candle,
her feeble prayers our only light in the hour
of our need. “Save us, Our Lady, whose very name
we adore.” Mother says the whirlwind is ever
trumped by the Word, so we listen for a clement
whisper and implore the First Mover to calm
our hearts. Genuflecting for all we’re worth,
we weep like river willows and vow to adore
meek Jesus, while the dark god outside swaggers,
hisses his gospel of annihilation and roars.