Buddy splashing in the creek behind our house turns up an arrowhead
stubby quartz chipped to fit a twig pierce a buck’s tawny hide.
There that maw in the hillside where some ancestor mined for gold.
Rusted wire in the woods where sheep grazed in the day.
I went home to say goodbye to my brother who lay dying
in our late parents’ bedroom couldn’t take it had to go outside
and poking around in the back field where we’d raised chickens once
kicked up a rotten bucket a corroded canister what’s this?
So here I am at ten this July day swatting shuttlecocks with him
taking turns churning the salt and ice packed peaches and cream
until our father dips a finger licks the custard spits disgusted.
The can had leaked. See him set himself to hurl the whole
kit and caboodle over the back fence. (Mama opens a bag of Oreos.)
Well, here the moment lay weed sewn and half buried in the red earth
even that hand crank that had chafed my knuckles on its side.
In Virginia sometimes to stretch our legs
we wander Civil War battlefields visualize for instance
how close the farm boys crouched facing off like carnival ducks
at Cold Harbor. Once in a while you’ll see an old man in earphones
divining the lawn with his wand in search of a minie ball a button
some more than storied proof of one episode on this or that ageless acre.
And the night Mama died. She’d been in coma for weeks
at the nursing home in Fork Union built on the farm where she was born.
I left there in tears before dawn stopped short in the parking lot
by a herd of cows chewing cud among the cars
a film overlay made of now and then
as if they’d wandered up from childhood to low her on.
Buddy cocks his head to wonder why I linger in the ankle deep stream
with this little shard of quartz. He doesn’t care that we live
in a lap dissolve, flies in amber that is only sugar melting.
The point at which receding parallel lines
seen in linear perspective seem to meet.
An article on a new book of photography in this morning’s Washington Post sent me down this rabbit hole! Here’s the article.
6 thoughts on “Vanishing Point – a poem”
What you see is something for which I don’t know the word. My grandmother was a clairvoyant — seeing in the present or near future — but what do we call someone who can see in to the past the way you do. Your short stories are such a gift to us — channeling that gift you have. Thanks for this poem Tony.
Thank you for your always generous readings, Ginger – we MUST discuss this magical grandmother of yours!
At your pleasure. I’m not sure what she had was a “gift”. Knowing can be hard, I think.
I really enjoyed reading this. Thanks so much for sharing, Tony.
You have a great way with words and tell a beautiful story in this poem! I felt like I was there in those moments with you feeling all the different feelings past and present! Thank you!
Big hug, darlin’!