Poetry Issue 10

   Issue # 10: July-December 2008

Thomas James



He


      Again and again I have painted the autumn flowers:
      The goldenrod shreds over my father’s bureau.
      I am at home among the ladderback chairs

      And muted pigments, the mauves, the tablets of stone-blue.
      It did not even hurt as the last dandelions
      Frayed, losing their hard, redeeming yellow.

      I recall the pitcher of lilac, a thistle’s bones.
      The dead tighten their eyes behind pear boughs.
      Age whittles at the tender golds and greens.

      The wicker lawn furniture went from bad to worse.
      My mother’s silver candelabrum
      Vanished in a rubble of petals fallen loose,

      In unstrung leaves, twigs suddenly struck lame.
      My bedclothes are a panoply of vines.
      Death gathers like a preferment, post-flowering time

      In the unpainted, sketched-in gardens,
      On the sky’s clear wash of ultramarine.
      The tongues of summer fall in the penciled lanes.

      My room faces morning’s blank transfiguration,
      The essential empty dyes of the scuppernong
      Spreading and spreading on the dirty pane.

      The catalpa offers its million pipes, strung
      Like beans or dolorous spikes of frost.
      Sun pokes me awake every morning.

      Come back. By now the spider’s little legs
      Are crippled with frost. I lift my brush to paint the last
      Still life-in-death, the vaseful of dry twigs.