© Diana Matisz, 2019
I still see your reflection
whenever the river slows
in its infrequently placid way,
kicking out sparkles here and there
just to make sure I notice.
Then a tug will push a barge past,
always laden with the weight
of the world someone’s mined,
all the time arguing
with underlying currents,
unseen snags and shallows,
whining of rusted steel on steel
and the strain of tarred ropes
that bind. And the wake
of their passage slices your image
into slivers of memory, emanating waves
that buoy and ground me as I list
in this spot, unable to move on.
With thanks to my dear friend Diana Matisz, who’s images have inspired me for years and I hope still will for years to come.
Photo © Joseph Hesch 2018
You know it’s Winter when
the sky and ground
mirror one another,
and near their middle
the roads, trees and houses
provide the deep-end
You can sit at your window
on a Sunday morning,
squint and nothing changes,
as if the whole scene’s
like a painting by Franz Kline.
Then drop of black
from the upper right corner
drifts through the dark
middle ground to the lower white,
to become a jagged spot
where the white paint flaked off
leaving behind a black canvas.
I know it’s really a crow,
but I’ll hold this squint
So many times I’ve tried to forget
and grew angry when I couldn’t.
Other times I wanted to get angry
but forgot how. They’re all
tiring and tiresome
wastes of time and what little spark
I can stir to heat the teakettle
of each new day to steaming.
Most days I barely hit a simmer.
But you always seemed to have
your emotional flamethrower primed
to incinerate that lifetime supply
of kindling you’ve kept seasoning
on the back porch of your soul.
I can’t recall which is worse,
to burn down your own house
or freeze within.
Guess we’ll never know.
Was it really that long ago,
when the music washed over us
like a warm breeze off the ocean?
There in the dark I closed my eyes
so imaginary sand wouldn’t seep into them
and tears would not weep out.
Is it really so long ago that you
“wow’d” and wondered how I knew
so much about this and that,
and nothing about you and I?
I stopped wondering long ago,
after I “why’d” and answered
my own question. I still sit
in the dark and let the music
wash over me, but now with
eyes open and imagination shut.
The rain taps at my window,
each drop a throat-clearing
attempting to pull my attention
away from this desk. But,
though I’m staring right at
piles of papers, pens, and pencils,
I’m not really seeing them.
These days attention comes like
a poor man’s paycheck, slipping
through my fingers before
I can actually grasp it,
like raindrops sliding down that
drumhead pane of glass over there.
No, my attention is on a photograph,
a touch, a smell and a voice
my senses won’t again caress.
Now it’s dripping onto this paper
atop those words:
Sometimes I forget what it’s like
to feel your warmth on my skin.
Or even through my clothes.
Closeness is not my strong suit.
I can’t even get close to
my own feelings for anyone,
let alone feeling yours.
I am numb to so much.
But then, I understand why
you would choose to keep
your distance from me.
How can anyone wish to be close
to someone who cannot feel
what they wish to share?
So that leaves me all alone
again, numb yet somehow
accepting of something
I probably never felt anyway.
But then why does it hurt so?
The power blew this morning.
The washing machine, the television,
the internet router, everything
went poof and their little lights
went out as if they lived behind
the closed refrigerator door.
This did not bother me so much,
for my power blew months ago,
so much light already snuffed
in my life when the door
between you and me slammed.
Barely a momentary crack
has it opened since.
They say eventually your eyes
get accustomed to the dark,
but only if you keep them open.
I’ll keep mine closed until
I know you’ll be there
when I open them again.