"What do you plan to do with your one, wild, precious life?" -Mary Oliver

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

What A Smart Boy You Were

When you’re snowed under,
there’s no getting away from you.
Out of cigarettes,
you search drawers and cubbyholes,
empty butts out of ashtrays,
and roll your own.

The storm is as focused as the hawk
that flies over the chicken coop.
Thoughts like sentence fragments
march around the house,
the thought of what you’d do
to keep from running out.

If you can’t bear the quiet,
imagine yourself deaf, like an old man steeped in it.
Imagine yourself trapped in a house
with an old man who won’t stop talking—
stopped up by memory with no one to listen.

The wind doesn’t count.
The partially-deaf man can bear the wind,
unlike a room full of people.
The wind is an undertone,
like the hum of a furnace.
It circles the sleeping house, unanswered.

The man becomes a boy in his sleep.
The boy who ran down the road
for the pleasure of it.
The boy who could take up any task
and finish.
That boy wasn’t confined
by his body to memory.
He was making them.

And what about that snowstorm?
Not the ones the old man talks about.
The one here and now,
the one we’ll want to talk about when we’re old.
Ah, but remember . . . nobody will listen.

Write it down so the memory has backbone,
like the sketch found in a drawer
and the note from a teacher of long, long ago.
What a smart boy you were.


I wrote this in a nostalgic mood because Christmas isn't only about merrymaking and then decided to post it for the One Stop Poetry site's One Shot Wednesday. If you've written a poem or even a short story you want to share with the fine folks at One Stop Poetry, follow the link.

11 comments:

Anne Gallagher said...

That was absolutely breathtaking. Thank you so much for posting.

Wine and Words said...

Lovely. I especially liked the part about the wind, the undertone. Very nice.

rosaria said...

HI! Thanks for stopping by my food blog and sharing your Christmas plans. Christmas does many things, opens up old bottles of perfume, tendrils of guilt, and packages of expectations. I love the way you started this poem, the statis of the situation, the you and I are stuck together in the now.

This is hauntingly beautiful, full of sharp images, of tender graces, as in the note from the teacher, a beautiful contrasting element.

So thankful you shared it with us.

Eric Alder said...

An interesting balance to all the 'holly jolly-nes' of Chrstmastime.

Nice One Shot, Yvonne!

Jemi Fraser said...

You have such a lovely way with words - always a joy to read :)

Yvonne Osborne said...

Anne,
Thank you so much.

Annie,
Thanks. I like the wind, especially when I'm inside.

Rosaria,
Thank you so much. And I'm glad I found your food blog!

Eric,
Hi! And thank you very much. I need to check out some more one shots myself. This was fun.

Jemi,
Thank you! Your comments always lift me up.

Steve Isaak said...

Solid, with a good wrap-around finish.

dustus said...

Excellent infusion of present and past, with wise words reminding that future memories are always beginning. Nice One Shot!

Yvonne Osborne said...

Steve,
Thank you so much for the comment.

Dustus,
Thank you. And I'd rather be making them than remembering them. thanks!

One Stop - The Place For Poets, Writers and Artists said...

i am glad you chose to share this..was very well written and a tiley reminder that christmas is not just about getting new things...all the best pete

Yvonne Osborne said...

Pete,
Thank you so much. My only regret is that I haven't had time to visit everyone yet. T'was a busy week for me to jump on the One Stop Wagon. But thank you again for sponsoring poetry.