after From Red Bank by Judyth Hill
I was formed by the rising of smoke stacks:
silhouette of man against sky;
Shades of grey from macadam to heaven
and everything in between: curbstone,
stairstep, dying elmbark, sparrow.
I was tutored by the rainbow logic of oil puddles,
the way a stick could slide
the raspberry to gold.
The smoosh of dayold slush.
The smell of freshspilled gas.
The splash of snow from tires
always driving away,
always heading someplace else.
I was formed by phantom mountains:
the horizons of my imagination etched
by lowlying clouds or a certain
shift of light in that landscape
of reluctant color
where even the cardinal called invisibly
from the branches of the last elm:
a lesson in how to lose red, in how to hide
the heart of the matter.
I was schooled in the slick shiny deadness of the fish
where Lake Erie wet the beach
and the shiny blackness of the rainslicked roads
at night, lullabied by the hush of tires
as the cars drove past
and then away, always: away.
I wanted to be always saying goodbye.
I wanted to leave before desire became memory.
I wanted to discover if rainbows
could also float in sky,
ever yearning toward their own tomorrows,
never returning, never looking back
at their salty shadows.
© 2001 Lisa Lenard
Recent winner of the Jim Sagel Prize for her novel Dissonance, past recipient of a Colorado Council on the Arts grant, and winner of numerous other writing awards, Lisa Lenard is the author of five novels, ten trade nonfiction books, and short stories, articles, book reviews, essays, and poems. After teaching writing at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado, for many years, she now writes, edits, and teaches in Corrales, New Mexico.
She can be reached at:
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Photo: Pari Noskin Taichert