Carol Nolde, five poems


We were away the night the car crashed

at the end of our lawn, but the glass shards

and twisted bits of metal we raked,

the carnations tied to the trunk shorn of bark

told some of the story. Today pink plastic

flowers and a white tee shirt are tacked

to a telephone pole on the route I take to work.

I think of Mexico where flowered crosses mark

every curve. They seemed part of a fascination

with death like the wax effigy of Christ,

full-sized and bloody in a glass coffin,

the chest weeping, the flesh extruded

and the tomb open to the public that displayed

a procession of skeletons propped along the wall

their tatters of cloth still clinging.

Thirty years ago my brother fell asleep at the wheel.

No one decorated the concrete with flowers.

And though I wondered, I never asked

which road, which bridge.

Not knowing helped.

I try to imagine the highways and backroads of the world

all flowers and mementos restored

and those that were never placed,

this thin layer of time and space

suddenly crowded, filled with testaments of loss.

The Saved

Anglo-Saxon lines after Richard Wilbur

Attic trunks talked

whispered, "Touch me.

Spring the latch,