Gary Carter – Three Poems


she withdrew quietly one autumn morning
leaving on the table
a handful of paper-skinned bulbs
with a note:

“plant these tenderly
and a crocus will let you know when
winter is over
even if there’s still snow on the ground–
if all goes well
I’ll be there to see them bloom”

I picked a spot beneath my window
on my knees
followed explicitly her instructions
carefully rolling away the dirt
kissing each bulb gently
as if it were her silky cheek
before nesting it in darkness
an act of utter faith

I waited, watched
until a bitter morning
when tiny blooms without fanfare unfolded
breaking the icy hold of
a last lingering crust of white
vivid dark miracles
answered prayers

and waited
until the crocuses fell away
and daffodils grinned yellow
soaked in warmth and hope

apparently all did not go well


Slow Grind

maybe it was the night
first blush of spring
in the hush through
an open window

maybe it was the wine
old vine zin
blood dark thick
with pepper and spice

or maybe that they
had not been together
for two full moons
severed by time and space

that brought something crazy intense
to that crack of time
sliding in quiet rhythm
slothful, no hurry
every inch of skin somehow
engaged, face to face
tongues entwined
his hands coached her hips
into a languid raw grind
belly hard on belly
her hands heaving down hard
on his back
her heels cinched into his knees
she climbed as he pressed down
clutched inside and outside her
and in one grand motionless rush
they came together
a blackness of purpose that
cloaked them in its frenzy

an ecstatic merger of souls
he whispered later
and remembered long after
that warm kiss of april on his back
and her sigh on his neck


The Lost Mother

There is an old woman
sitting in a chair
one hand–
furrowed as a plowed field
veins dark purple
beneath parchment skin–
snagged like a jointed vine
around the metal
to keep her from floating away
in this lightness of being

She sits before a streaked window
beyond which half-baked grass
brittle and tan
bends beneath the relentless beat
of August sun
though the heat doesn’t deter
a tiny sparrow
black eye cocked
from pecking at the ground

Her eyes say that the place outside the glass
is as alien and desolate as
a ring of Saturn

Her lips quiver and jump
but words stay hidden
leaping away from her
when she tries to ferret them
from caves where light
is intermittent and fleeting
though suddenly
without warning
she asks how she will get to school
in the morning if it keeps snowing

And there is no answer
to that question
that fits this time and place
and in a blink
her face softens again
her eyes turn toward the window
and she is gone

This is how I lost my mother
slowly and steadily and quietly
the only violence raging
in her head
where images and voices

come and go

go and come

without lines of demarcation
or march of chronology:

they must dance
down great halls
whirling dervishes
spinning without caution or control
wildly free
eluding her futile grasp
teasing her with fragments
of known and unknown
until she shakes and gyrates
quivers to recall
what runs away
laughing and taunting

I know where she is
where she sits
where she spends each day
but she is as lost
as a tiny child alone in thick forest

I can unwrap her twisted fingers
from the chair
take her gnarled hands
lead her away
but she will still be lost
to herself
to me
to this world

I wish I could free her
send her flying
up and away
with the sparrow

And sometimes
I think about the how of it
the what if of it
the why not of it