Another morning in the obscure,
light spackling the clouds rolling in,
running before some storm.
The sky flattened like an unstamped envelope.
The local predators must have been sleeping in.
It was early November, songbirds
off on winter hols, swifts
racketing down the chimney.
A lone walker happened through the scene,
more shadow than man, the sort Tiepolo
might have finished off with a brush-
stroke, with perhaps a splash of red for a hat.
A fiddlehead lifted the burden of new life,
relaxing like an uncoiled spring.
The air was still, as if yet had lost its claim.
Great War soldiers, scarred, papier-maché
(German?)—some elderly uncle’s, perhaps.
In wounded numbers they marched on shoebox trenches,
fields of Ypres lain across the worn Oriental,
the dog rolling over the lines like a tank.
I traded the doughboys to a neighbor boy
and was taken by the ear to repatriate
the P.O.W.’s—through the schoolyard’s
dank grass, in by the kitchen door.
Weeks later the door stood unlocked,
table littered with crumbs, New Bedford paper
cradling a juice glass, two drops of blood on the front page.
I climbed the stairs, calling his name.
No one was there. No one was there again.