It possessed all
his magic to keep
a daughter close.
But one cannot hold
the moon forever
or its rhythms still
and even a sorcerer
must yield to such
first, inevitable facts.
Here, I give you,
the best part of my life,
he told Ferdinand
and yield now to a place
where every third thought
shall be my grave,
and then drowned
his book so deep
in the fathoms
he knew to
the alchemy of love.
The wooden thermometer in the Kiwanis Park
reports that they’ve reached eighty percent
toward building the new hospital wing,
and the Dairy Queen sign advertising half off
an Artic Rush also is pleased to announce
that Salvation is a Gift from Our Lord.
Along the State Route that cuts through the heart
of town, each weathered, gray-slate, clapboard house
has a sofa on the front porch, a rusted tree swing
or big, brown beater of a Pontiac parked on
a washboard-dirt drive. But the side gardens,
each full as the old person’s lap who tend them,
are swelling with costume-jewelry sunflowers,
peonies, tomatoes, snap beans, pattypan squash
that their owners have placed in a crate along the curb
along with an empty Maxwell House can where the passerby
might pay on the honor system right before he’s hit with
the hundred buck fine for doing thirty in a twenty zone.
A Box of Old Letters
Found in the attic after I bought the place,
the address on the front always the same.
But the postmarks an atlas heading west,
always west down the Ohio to Cairo
then up the Mississippi to St Louis.
Each day took him farther and further
from her touch, through towns
with populations smaller than their area,
tree lines thinned then vanished, land bleached
like the bones of cattle lining the trail.
Places where quarter-sections were left
for dead, land, a disaster never more
than one drought away. And he pleading
for a letter, some word to expel the fears
of losing her that grew with each passing
mile, enclosing pressed flowers:
hawthorns, pieces of sunflowers—
the color, he said of her hair—
columbines, then poppies when he crossed
the Sierras into California, he looking
for the gold that would bring her
to him and we never learning
if he ever possessed a box
to save on his side of the world.
Richard Luftig is a former professor of educational psychology and special education at Miami University in Ohio now residing in Pomona, CA; a recipient of the Cincinnati Post-Corbett Foundation Award for Literature and a semi-finalist for the Emily Dickinson Society Award; poems have appeared in numerous literary journals in the United States and internationally in Japan, Canada, Australia, Europe, Thailand, Hong Kong and India.