One sign shot to pieces sentries the road in,
and the road, wild in sumac and gooseberry bramble,
narrows to a foot-worn path that mazes through the trees
as if it has no particular place to end. Yet it ends
in a clearing, the sky curving like a magnifying glass
above a swimming hole perfectly honed out of solid stone.
A granite quarry, deep cold, slick dark,
it fell away from caution after the company closed down,
left the woods cluttered with half-formed
monuments, unfinished business.
I stand here, not Edward Gibbon at the edge of Rome,
not Michelangelo, slave to his chisel, hammering to release
the soul, just a boy caught in his own flat body
stunned to be staring at two grown naked men
and one delicately supple woman, flesh
stretched tight against the rupture of form.
Impossible to move forward into their openness
or backward into the thick shelter of the woods,
I persist, for an hour, for a year
until they dress and disappear through the trees.
Nobody sees me. Thats what I fear.
the other shoe, the fat lady, the chickens
coming home to roost and I am the egg.
Time is a walk to grandmothers house
only to find her in bed with a lover,
heartbeats like an old pendulum clock,
the little moans a house cant help making
under the strain of her enormous weight.
Its boiled chicken again, dumplings
round as ice cream scoops somehow rising
to the surface in a steaming kettle.
Time is an hourglass figure leaning over
to tie her laces, her beauty running too quickly
into her shoes, and its shivers and goose pimples
all over the boy, not from the cold
but from watching her step out of
the shallow end of the pool. Time is the color
of blood, the smell of singed pinfeathers,
its the appetite that leaves only a clutter of bones
on the table. It makes dogs bark
in the dead of night, sends rockets to the moon.
Its two hands touching in front of the church,
promising everything until death.
Except, of course, its death too, though the hands
cant grasp this. Its morning and evening
on the seventh day and nine months
into the explosion. Time is the fingerprint
a bullet traces as it leaves the gun,
the warm empty space that remains behind.
© 2002 David Feela
David Feela writes and teaches writing and literature in Cortez, Colorado. Poems, essays, and stories have appeared in over 150 periodicals and over a dozen anthologies. His chapbook, THOUGHT EXPERIMENTS, won the Southwest Poets Series prize, sponsored by Maverick Press, and he writes a monthly column for INSIDE/OUTSIDE SOUTHWEST MAGAZINE. His website can be viewed at www.fone.net/~feelaps/David. Email: feelaps[AT]fone.net (replace [AT] with @).