Steve Klepetar’s work has appeared widely. His poems have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. Recent collections include My Son Writes a Report on the Warsaw Ghetto and The Li Bo Poems, both from Flutter Press, and Family Reunion, forthcoming from Big Table Publishing.
We walked to the river, whispered
to the trees. “Our ritual,” you said
as wind tossed brown water onto our
shoes. Silently, I admired your hair,
the way it shone in the buttery sun.
Holding hands, we followed a path
to the peacock cage to see the strange
white bird and small, brown chicks.
“A genetic mutation,” you said, reading
from your phone, but why these caged
peacocks in the park, no one knows.
One lady spoke to them, over and over
telling them how beautiful they are,
as if it were something they needed
to know. She spoke with that odd little
voice some people use with children,
until rocks broke from the hills,
cascading in a shower of broken shale.
All night in the cold, her mad eyes shone.
Somewhere a door has opened
as you wait in this quiet
neighborhood in a town of rivers
and leaves. Slowly, the day has grown
hot, and now in the long afternoon
every road seems entangled in a web
of dreams. You have tumbled
out of history. Can you feel shockwaves
as the threshold looms? Your feet
tingle; they have fallen asleep.
So painful to stand, but someone
has nailed your boots to the floor,
clarified exactly where you must
attend to your blood as it pulses
through the airways of your flesh,
its tides controlled by a merciless moon.
“I’ve got to see someone about this sleep,”
my mother says. “When I just sit down,
even for a second, I fall asleep, any time
of day.” But there’s no help for this at ninety-nine;
it’s part of what the doctors call “debility” –
congestive heart failure, kidneys slowly
shutting down. “And when I sleep, I dream
so vividly it becomes hard to tell what’s real.”
She dreams of the dead, her sister gone for
nearly forty years, a couple, two good friends
from her days in Shanghai, her lover dark-
haired and fit, with his demanding voice
and tears. It’s easy to see where they come
from, our noon-day ghosts, inhabiting this last,
small room. They don’t beckon in a tunnel
of light or emerge as terrors from darkness
and mist. It’s pleasant to see them. All the same,
they wait, blurring into the fabric of unraveling days.
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