Four Poems by Cameron Morse

Gaggles

One or two pinpricks of diamond
glass are all that’s left of the snowbank,
one misshapen stone resting atop the other
all that remains of the limbless man
down the lane. White strands of Moby’s shed
winter coat adhere to the knee
of my coveralls. The rattan seat in which I rock
is splitting open, bottoming out.

I hear a flock of geese but look up too late,
too sunrise bleary, to see the long undulating string
slip away. How does old age happen? All of a sudden,
or a little at a time? I raise my eyes and the geese
are gone. The snow is gone.
A lone straggler circling the house, I know
how it feels to be left behind, ghosted
when your whole family goes
out to breakfast.

Hope Chest

After the daylong plunge into dark spring rain,
I settle into wet wicker, an aftermath
of mist, static on my brow, my beard scissored
and buzzed to an undercoat
of pea gravel.

Muted tones of conversation—Barb’s
garage door open, her sister’s drone, boyfriend’s drawl.
A house sparrow shelters in the wheel well
of the white FORD Ranger.

How long, how dark the day dragged on,
Theo butterflying among picture
books, stamped rain puddles in lulls
of downfall, lowered himself like a wildebeest
to drink from the driveway’s
shattered basin.

A Robin with nest stuff in its beak crowns the eaves
above me, then ensconces itself in the crook
of the downspout, lank grasses
draped over corrugated tin.

A single raindrop pricks the back
of my hand. I hear a tapping
and raise my eyes.
Not much to see beyond the shower curtain,
the sky’s prickly screen.

Mariah. Brushing her teeth in sleep
shorts—gone so often
I’d forgotten she was home—ghosts
the second-story window,
tapping the pane. Elderly 24-year-old
spinster, she keeps a hope chest.

In the refrigerator photograph of us as kids,
she’s wrapped her arms
around mine, even then trying
to get my attention, a dirty blonde
lanky goof, I’m strawberry-topped and staring
blackly into the lens. Now bald,
and she’s always dying her hair another color
than she intended.

Tube Socks

Perhaps I, too, cannot be healed
except by believing. March afternoon

bright and cold as a comma, ember
of yesteryear a burnt hole in the seat

of the patio chair. Hay stalks spill
into the grass, shoots of green onion

wagging like antenna over the terracotta
rim of the flowerpot. Sun fevers

my forehead, another symptom,
ensconced in my army green hood

from Beijing. My tube socks beartrap
deep red grooves above my ankles.

My aging gums recede. I kept my heart,
confesses Augustine, from assenting

to any thing. When I find a hole
in my heel, I tear it open.

Fall headlong into the slaughter
of April, the second month

of social distancing. Wind rises,
raises a hand hard against the denimed

calves, stitched seam of yellow thread.
Worn out, I throw myself away.

Eating Snow

Sun bears down upon the shovel’s head,
digging us out of a grave
run of cloudy days of sleet salting
the parking lot outside Cockerell & McIntosh
Pediatrics, where our sliding doors
seize up and the van bleeps at us
for our own safety all the way home
after I heave Naomi in her car seat
over the dashboard. My dreams come
readily these nights I spook Lili
in the study. I go into the gas station
for a haircut only to realize I have no hair,
sink my teeth into the éclair my cancer
would kill me for and Naomi raises a cry
out of the dark. Eat snow, my son says,
and he does partake, stealing out the storm
door in his plaid pajama bottoms
to range barefoot across the powdered stoop.
He picks at clumps between January’s
white blade, green blade. No body in the bed
beside me and I climb the stairs to the study.
Twice a night I ghost the study door,
whisper her name over the wheezy chug
of the breast pump.