Will Reger, four poems

September 1, 2018

Poem for a Mother Taken

           for Riccy Enriquez Perdomo

 

When I use the word taken

 

          She was taken from her promise


          She was taken from her children


          She was taken by armed men


          She was taken by her arms and held


          She was taken, spirited from place to place

 

it sounds like the beat of her arms

against metal doors of a transport vehicle

 

(called Black Marias in other countries,


though maybe not black and definitely not

Virgin Mothers taken suddenly


in unexplained childbirth--or sisters of any kind

who take her into a marked unknown,

across wire thin borders where

here is home, there not home,

here received then taken,


there not wanted but received.)

 

          She was taken by an illness of lonely terror

          She was taken like a slip and fall into a pit

          She was taken like a bullet for a cause

 

When I use the word taken

 

I mean they cut her out


I mean they tore her off


I mean they ripped her from our belly.

 

I mean she was taken from all of us.

 

 

 


 

Your Hand

 

Here is your hand.


The skin is thinning though still tough.

The veins and tendons are raised


like freeway interchanges on a prairie.

Here are the freckles mapped in youth,

and here the age spot that first appeared

you don't remember when.

 

Here are the pale Braille marks

of knife and burn and dog

that I can read with shut eyes


and tell your story--one story of many

that could be told of you.

 

If I turn your hand over,


though I am no gypsy,


I can watch myself


make my way across your palm,

up and down the pathways

folded there.

So many near misses,


so many brushes with disaster.

 

Where will you find me, love,

someday, what will remain--


I am no gypsy,


but I think I see how this will end,

how I will finally be yours,

asleep above the earth


in a vast dream folded there.

 

 

 

 

 

Witness

 

Was it two coyotes I saw in the park?

Loping across the mown field


where we walk the dogs—


they turned to me without stopping,

to stare at me with yellow eyes,

a look that spoke real peril, if they chose it,

though soon the angle of our paths


forced them to turn away.

 

I was out that morning with a notebook

to gather words fallen beneath the trees

after a night of rain had bejeweled

every green thing. To see coyotes


so luminous, with such intent,

as if they were penitents bound on a journey

for absolution somewhere in suburbia—

breathed mystery.

 

Because I held my thumb between two pages,

stained with ink made watery with dew


a faint grey image of coyotes passed


across the page as across the field,

 

I scribbled beside the smudge:

 

This day has made us, as we have made

the terraqueous world for you--


look away from us, we were never here.

 

 

 

 

 

The Magic of a Poem

 

Lettery crumbs litter my shirt.


I'm on the bus eating poems from a bag.

They are soft and chewy like shrooms,

dried and salted lightly to taste.


The girl in the seat across from me

wants to try one, I can tell. I smile at her

and offer the bag, she reaches in


with a delicate pinching motion


and pulls out something by Pushkin;

bites right into it without hesitation.

Before long, Russian words are dripping

down her chin. She grins darkly,

tasting sorcery in the snowy trees.

Will Reger is a founding member of the CU (Champaign-Urbana) Poetry Group (cupoetry.com), has a Ph.D. from UIUC, teaches at Illinois State University in Normal, and has published most recently with Front Porch Review, Chiron Review, Paterson Literary Review, and Zingara Poetry Review (forthcoming). His first chapbook is Cruel with Eagles. He is found at https://twitter.com/wmreger -- or wandering in the woods playing his flute.

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