Somehow Predicted, Somehow False

The man’s eyes slide open. The moon
Has come to the window and placed its
Weight on his chest. Beside him, her
Breasts tilted by her subtle breaths,
Is his cousin’s wife. He walks the hall
Striped with moonlight past the room where
His cousin’s children snore gently and
Into his own room. Outside, morning
Slowly arrives, two oaks in the front yard
Hissing at the wind while a spruce stands
Silent. The dog lifts its head from the
Mat on the porch, sniffs and whines softly,
Then realizes it is not his master, who
Will not be back till Sunday from his
Second business trip this week. The man
Has come to visit for the summer, to
Escape boredom in the country. He is
Eighteen, lean and muscular. This is his
First taste of love; how can he feel guilt?
For his cousin’s wife it is a familiar
Story: watching her husband’s self-less
Industry divide him from the family, like
A man smiling as he bricks and mortars
Himself into a windowless room, saying
How it will all be for the best, his face
All that’s left. How easy the metamorphosis:
First love turns into anger, which becomes
Indifference, and finally, fecklessly,
Desire. They share such wild fantasies
That the man feels the knife of jealousy
When his cousin sleeps with his own wife,
Is sure torment echoes in his throat, stiffens
Every gesture. But the children do not
Suspect. They idolize their cousin, his
Knowledge of music, how he lifts them up
And swivels their pliable bodies like
Propellers or ceiling fans. With each day
The man and woman become more addicted to
The thrill of testing their luck, like someone
At a casino who keeps staking his winning bets,
Fascinated as the pile grows larger, that his
Whole life pivots on the clicking wheel worth
More than what he might win, which after all
Is just more plastic chips. One day they dare
Themselves too far, the man’s cousin next door,
The children’s voices and a one-minded breeze
Jet-streaming up the stairs into the bedroom.
Their clothes are on but even at eight, the
Daughter knows from how her mother’s hips
Have joined his that she has lost a father. At
Her shriek the man and woman look up and see
Just how their happiness has betrayed them, how
Like travellers in another land they have been
Misled, and coming over the crest of the hillock
They see their future revealed: not what was
Promised or hoped, but a river of stones and
Beyond it plains with few birds or trees.

Homecoming Without You, Lauren

This weekend last October
We stood for snapshots by
These black gates, leaves
Cartwheeling across the Yard,
A vague sense of yellow and
Crimson that seemed to brush over
The tedious details. What
I remember are clouds like terry
Cloth, these plain buildings
Disfigured by ivy, tremendous
Oaks and maples unimpressed
By wind, and your fingers
Long and delicate like the clasp
On a brooch, how they abandoned
Holding back your fluttering
Hair for my waist. I concentrate
On that moment until I no longer
Hear the Square’s traffic
Grumble, and people bumping
Past are like turns in my sleep.
I breathe in deeply again
And again, air filled with lies
About your presence, that same
Scent of wet leaves, my shoulders
Expecting your hands. For a moment
I can believe what the woodcock
Believes as he reiterates
His speech, his startled glide
From grass to nest:
There are no years. Only seasons.