with Magritte’s matrix of businessmen
carefully spaced and hovering in the sky
who move not at all
but might—a characteristic of swallows
ready to swoop or suddenly plummet,
though this is also nothing like Magritte’s men
suspended in middle age
who may drop like leaky helium balloons
or escape into the vanishing point
but will not acknowledge how desperate you are
for something to happen.
And by “you” I mean me,
framed in a doorway
Magritte repeatedly painted empty.
The swallows last evening
dragged behind them my meanings
with hooks that hurt even in recollection,
a tug I can only describe as my life.
Magritte’s men are unfastened from the air,
poised to rise or fall or disappear
if they’d just decide,
and by “men” I’ve meant all along
my husband in the yard
where he fails to hear me calling
or hears me and stands facing away,
Kathleen Flenniken’s poetry collections are Famous and Plume, a meditation on the Hanford Nuclear Site. She was the 2012 – 2014 Washington State Poet Laureate.