Scoundrel Time

Dura Mater


I carried death inside me for several days, waiting

That man had no ticket to the concert; he pressed his ear to the wall,
but no song found him

Bees were swarming; they made sleeves and a hood around me when I stood still

All winter a deep booming as black ice shifted on the lake, cracking into continents

I tried to invent a new shape for snowflakes
I tried to make them last, but one by one they burned out on my pink palm

The way the children propped him up, the field mouse they found, put a berry
beneath his paws. The way the boy pushed a small sock into a box, painted a mountain scene for the beady fixed eye to see. They gave him a pebble of cheese, a soda bottle cap for water

The creek rushed by with no concern nor time for us to stop

There was pain but it was hard to describe

Newsprint-ash settled across my hair and after, how tongues leapt around the torso
of the tree, and when it cracked, riven, there was a soft pulpiness within, amber-red and everything trapped, suddenly exposed, trembled to find a way out from the flames

Spittle bugs bubbled on the surface. We slipped our way back across the fallen trunk
to the other side, the stink of swamp-muck thick

I sent the self out like a dog, but she returned unmet, unheard

Please, they said, the children not wanting me to die. Please, Not wanting me
even to be old

This bubble, this bubble

They scooped it from the moving water, and though it was dead already, they tried to keep it
from ending