Milton, I

A dandelion fluff
A red jacket hung soaking from a tree
The golden light and
A baseball game in the distance
Summers, I used to alight
Big jet planes streaky messes in the sky
Insect colonies above and below
The moon a vegetable print on the blue.

Three body prints in tall grass
Summers later it’s just one, bigger print
Like one swallowed the others
Or like the ground swallowed the two
Or like life segregates children and the
Grass gets cut from under your ankles.

But the robins are the same still
Moving twitchy like they’ve been
Reanimated from a frozen death and the
Suburbs still seethe like a dully regular
Unhappy marriage.

I used to sit on these stairs and read
About animal anatomies
And this town smells like the girl who died
When she nose-dove into the void
It wasn’t poetic like Virginia’s pockets full
Of stones or
The heat around Sylvia’s ears;

But poetic like a scream that never ends
Only you stopped listening.

A Labrador with a grey muzzle and
Ski-slope eyes
An old woman with mashed potato hair
And a guilty smile when she leaves her dog’s poo
In the child’s playground.
A man whose breakfast is the lonesome wolf cry
Of liquor that goes down smooth.
I know my town with the same bewilderment
As reading the diaries of my young doubled self

A body print on a grass long since grown.



Artwork by Tina Berning