I know what’s going down out there
from the apocalyptic sunsets lately
scraping the sky red and purple like
a bruised clavicle. It’s a tiny miniscule
bit of noise, but still: the litter of fences
and factories, the town seeping like a stain
into the surrounding fields. When Monet
couldn’t tolerate the incoherence
of the streets, he went back to painting
landscapes he would construct himself
just for the purpose of painting them.
And I’m telling the truth when I say
I’ve heard a guy busking on his guitar
in the strip mall outside the Goodwill
and next to the Food Lion. When I go in
for groceries, he’s singing “I have become
comfortably numb,” a little high and
a little sharp, and then when I come out,
he’s doing “Hallelujah,” and both of these
sentiments are simultaneously accurate:
DepressedBlessed would be the hashtag.
On the car radio today a woman lectured
about mid-life, told us to have goals, get
hobbies, create our own milestones
around athletics. I take notes on an
orange and yellow Virginia Lottery
Ticket with a stubby pencil: mark
boxes as shown ⌧. When my son
ate a pencil—colored, blue—his tongue
became an ocean of sorrow. A group
of sea otters resting together is called
a raft. You and I, we lashed whatever
we had in our pockets with string
and set the parcel gently on the sea.
I’ve heard the sounds of a waterfall
cascading from 148 speakers. I’ve
heard the cat crunching kibble and
the trees shushing the fields as I write this.
I’ve heard the rubber band that binds
us extricably to one another snap back
against our skin and leave a mark.
I’ve heard a car engine gasp, then
turn over in the parking lot of that
numb hallelujah strip mall and maybe
Monet was onto something. In his
Painting “Boulevard St. Denis, Argentuil,
Winter,” he captures the exact moment
the sun struggles to break through
a light snowfall. There’s a path, a fence,
a town; figures hurrying with umbrellas;
snow takes the edges off of most things;
but it’s the sun—the yellow light riveting,
sickly, the opposite of triumphant.
Copyright © Erika Meitner
Used with the permission of the author
on behalf of Poetry Northwest.