The Agonist Journal

Matthew 7:1-5

The fix. The stealth. The stoop. The swoop. The kill—
a barb more brutal than a falcon’s bill.

Words meant to wound. What are you on, some kind
of guilt trip?
(So much for the ties that bind).

Yet I, the speck-eyed sister, turned away,
keeping my counsel till another day,

trusting my mother hadn’t heard, although
her sense of hearing was the last to go.

                                 —Hospice of the VNA, Heritage House, July 2011


North on 81

His native home deep imag’d in his soul.
—Alexander Pope, The Odyssey of Homer

I linger by the house. The sycamore
is gone, the fence has turned a rusty brown,
the mailbox hangs askew. How they would frown
on such disinterest and neglect.

I step along a grass and granite row,
assailed by bloodroot, the insistent hum
of bees, a smack of dust and ashes, and
the incongruity of having come
so far to rendezvous in no man’s land—
the hush, a resonant adagio.

I sit here for a while and think things through,
then drive on back—due north on 81—
past Scranton, Susquehanna, Binghamton,
acquainted with time’s arrow, swift and true.