A dream girl in imagination, certainly
that one could smile
or place a canister on the shelf,
sugar beside tea, without regret.
Humming, while cooking, swaying in the cleaning,
she's everyone's dear mother,
but for the sex.
Oh Carolina moon, down there
it was raining, yet a soft summer rain,
and through the foggy window
he watched me as I cut her: blood lust
no more than a canister
for the wealth. It's Southern Gothic
A son sires a son.
I am growing old watching Guy acting
an old actor at the theater;
it's his part, and a younger man, his foil,
up from the South. But that was Carolina,
and she was cooking chili,
my father's recipe.
In that moment of regret, I take him
down to the lake's shore for reminiscence. . .
a perfect mother, days in the country. . .
down where he took the girls,
even his sister;
one thrust her palms
into a starry sky:
all this prefigured in a magazine.
He was just thirteen.
Or he was under the eaves' covers,
gazing in at the window
or down into a magazine.
I was too old for children,
and to catch him there, then
talk to him,
to say nothing
of my own machinations and regrets,
my active Adam.
A fire burns on the hearth in the cozy cabin.
My father sits, an actor,
In the chair beside me: "Let's go
to the lake's shore in memory."
His voice is mine, speaking to Adam,
some faltering harmony of ministration.
Sometimes the river is mistaken for a lake,
fog on the water, an echo that suggests an oval.
The cutting was an accident, the knife
slipped at the counter.
We were slicing onions,
peppers for the chili, and saw Adam
looking into a magazine at the window.
Within the play there was another
old actor instructing the younger,
until the boy was sure of himself in rebellion,
obviously: fathers and sons.
This wasn't promising.
Yet the playwright wrote for actors,
and the play lived in performance.
Now I watch the figures thrown on the window,
pine candle and juniper,
sun's shadows after four days
of rain in which the wind was up,
the sea lost
in foggy mist along the shore:
it could have been a river, or a lake.
And in the rain
beside the magazine rack,
I'd bowed over a child at the super market
and stroked his oval head, then saw
the lurid limbs
of a woman grinning from a slick cover
that a son shouldn't see.
She was only cooking chili,
we were cutting onions,
counting peppers in the glow
of a Carolina moon. . .
and the child grinned up at me, reminding me:
you are too old for children.
Yet the flesh is ancillary
to the lurid picture, the sister's
a mother, or a dream girl.
My father limps to the window,
then puts another log on the fire.
I see her face before me in the glowing coals,
a kind of cut along the thyroid.
There's a knocking
At the cabin door, it must be Adam.
Then my father turns
and waves it all away. "Only
a tree's limb" in the rising wind, and fog.
she makes a cup of tea for growing pains,
interrupting her cleaning,
a recipe for reminiscence:
days in the country,
just a perfect mother
and his sister,
palms prefigured in a magazine,
and the echo of a child's head
suggesting an oval, a warm lake
or a river's
harmony of ministration,
down in Carolina, onions in the chili.
There was no dream girl in the play. . .
in the playhouse there were plenty. . .
yet in an actors' makeup vanity,
and the mirror
was the audience, lurid shadows
on a window,
one's face in another, shoulder
Then the old actor
sires his son and holds against rebellion,
obviously, and my father
puts another log on the fire,
only a tree's limb,
and in the glowing coals
I see your face before me.
Sometimes the river is mistaken for the sea
in summer rain,
gulls in from the shore near Harbinger.
Report of a sister
found in underwear
and gothic implications. Adam
from cover to cover: lurid faces
of an audience or a mother
seen through a mirror.
There were onions on the counter,
bell peppers, and a sharp knife.
She lifted the tea cup to her lips,
a pause in the cleaning,
then was glancing out the window.
We were strolling
down a twisted path, in fog, to the sea.
He held the crime magazine in his hand,
mine was on his shoulder.
In the storm's aftermath
my father gazes through the cabin window
into a starry sky. "This is promising,"
he says, then turns in the reflected oval
like an actor moving
to the dying embers.
"Would you like to tell me about it?"
Coughs in the audience.
The old actor motivates for ancillary judgment:
suicide, murder, or the freedom of a son.
There's a dramatic silence
in which the play is a comedy
of indecision. Southern Gothic.
Then it's Adam and I,
shoulder to shoulder at the counter,
cutting the onions
There's fog at the window,
that crime magazine on the sill.
"Would you like to tell me about it?"