The Poetry of Joan Houlihan
As Winter WillMown, or lifted to the loft, our summer hay,
As on the lawn you were somber and said your lines:
Give the man a touch.
In need, your face looked upward,
Broke to mawkish, and a melancholy
Took your throat, the hope of a new alphabet,
Away. As winter will, it built spun-sugar
Crannies, and we crept, and prayed, took every care
Until your hair was topped with silver, my cheeks
So cold from your wise breath. I broke the frozen roses
And this was as close as we could get, white and pink, and this
Was how we lived: in a drift of memory, a tilt toward
Youth. As if we could. As if now
Were not enough, in its clang, in its hand-
Held bell, in its taste of nickel, sharp.
In this fashion, our years flowed
And we made our bed with mortality, left the gates
Open, the mind vacant, intentionally.
I have given up everything. Nothing is
Left for you to pierce, examine; my youth
Is a small crust. Don't touch.
It keeps better here, in my drawer, than outdoors
Where the air might turn it wrong. Now let's talk
As we hear the rake drag small debris, the crack of twigs;
The ocean water as it drips from empty nets,
The murmur at an accident as the crowd
Turns away from a gone situation; a sound
That's only us, that we put up with, like a crying
In the leaves at night, that rises once, then drops.