Painting by Schulenburg


Cullen Bailey Burns



We will listen to the rain, the sun, the slight man
against the wall. Everything has promise
in it—our teacups, our tulips, the silk tied in a woman’s hair.
It’s not so unbelievable, the calling out, the love. The box elder

has unraveled the beginning of spring,
all these leaves—star clusters—shining.
Or we’ll listen to the snow, sounds it doesn’t make except

in our hearts. And when the father’s very sick
the child stands beneath the hot air blower at the grocery store
just inside the door, stands there in the noisy warmth.
We will listen, always, to time passing under our feet,

what the dead would say takes up so much space. What we
would tell our dead, what we do tell them, over and over
as the seasons change and we’re promised to the future,

to our bit of it. Beneath the blower over the door a hair ribbon flutters.
And the man there against the wall, smoking and watching
the ladies pass, has a compliment for almost every one
as in some light every single thing is beautiful beyond compare.