Mark Jarman


All Things That

Hover like the ringed tip of a fly rod,
Hover just out of reach, like hover flies,
Have a life of their own, their hovering,
And sing of their desire to our desire.

Wander off into darkness under leaves,
Hide beneath leaves, like a curling shoot,
Pour their alcohol from clouds and stars,
And circle, winged and tilted, and ascend.

There in the sundog, there in the migraine’s aura,
There in the black light of insomnia,
There in the false dawn, there in the side glance,
The blur that sharpens when we look away.

Why waste time? Better to palm a paperweight,
Scrawl a note, kiss a willing mouth,
Crumb the loaf and gulp down the last wine,
Take the glare in the eyes.


Betsy Moore

The elder has called his wife from the motel,
Confessing at last what she has known all along--
She who stood in the church office and told his lover
That she was trying to love her, she was trying.
The elder, a man as moral as a contract,
Upright as a billboard, confident
As one of those buttons that say, "I FEEL GREAT!"
Has called his wife to confess, and she is listening.
Seated at the table where she pays bills
And writes letters to her sons and looks out
Through sliding glass doors at the backyard, she is listening.
Every Christmas she has poured the gifts of liquor,
Bottle by bottle, down the kitchen sink.
She sings an achingly pure soprano in the church choir.
She is soon to be a grandmother. The elder,
The adulterer, will resign his position in the church,
And will not like the life he is soon to be living,
Although it includes his lover, the church secretary.
Meanwhile he is confessing from the bed
Where they have just made love. He is calling
His wife because his lover has told him to,
And his wife is listening. She cannot picture the look
On her husband’s face, or taste his nervous sweat,
Or smell the other woman on his hands,
Or touch their naked bodies, and does not wish to.
But she is willing to listen, and she is listening.