Wivenhoe Park, Essex by John Constable, 1816
by Lawrence Cottrell (February 2022)
She went as she’d come, bygone girl of long since put
away public habits…
antique at conception.
She seemed unhappy mostly, lonely, perhaps, on her wee
patch of ideas,
But meticulous in her housekeeping, and planning her
And, o’ yes, she kept us from starving when her man
Which, if you’d been her child, was something after all, as
If Jesus had had flatulence, picked his nose some, kicked a
but saved man on Golgotha…
that may go too far…
Though, if love is the measure of things, there was in her
an aside of glory…
Eloquence of heart amid the lesser texts of her penny
Found annotation on a dog-eared leaf of reminiscence,
molt left from a scold transmuted
(for an hour)
unto grace —
Once this realm was home, where daisies told me secrets,
silks stroked tears of all my weepings…
Before Earth seemed cold, quicksilver pad I wrote on; ere
Even Sheol hollowed, temples emptied, providence
thinned ‘to fate merely.
O’ then upon a time, self was minstrel seeking songs,
was middling dicing for its greatness.
Erst I lay serene with wanton hours, was sought (it
by importunities of promise…
Spoke well of by zephyrs in the willows, beloved of genial
transits by a sun,
played jacks and Simon says and marbles
in the deepings —
…always the getting there not the there, the in-between of
town and town;
need craved the hunt,
not quarry found.
I swore, to anyone who asked, that there were reasons for
Those nights beside roads: goals chased, prey or prophecy
tracked to ground,
But, really, sir, they were faux threshings of straw, feints
by self-respect for public eyes…
snug interstices ‘midst perches.
I felt, now-and-then, that I was exile by decree, brush
Stroke of a souldrop on a pane, off key note of jack-tar
not good for much save gandy dancings…
An itinerant refrain in (oh) a Georgia rain, ten miles
north of Brunswick,
on my way to Savannah…
In the half-dawn drear of one day more without a name.
Lawrence Cottrell has lived in West Virginia, mostly, preferring to dwell among good people, in a place where change is an unloved orphan. He has a BA from West Virginia State University and attended several graduate schools, leaving each finally to walk mist-hewn hollers and prowl wind-blasted ridges, to be where valleys can be spanned by two arms and a broom handle, and noons aren’t quite sure of themselves. His poems have appeared in The Lyric, Appalachian Heritage, Good Foot and Grab-a-Nickel, among others. His work is in the celebrated anthology Wild Sweet Notes: Fifty Years of West Virginia Poetry 1950-1999. He blooms presently at a bend of Elk River’s meander.
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