A Poem by Jane Costlow
Squirrel slides off our roof
into the barrel of pollen-scummed rain, into
the big black trash can beside the beach rose.
A lid might have saved him.
On sunny summer days it waters the garden.
The morning’s post-storm stillness interrupted
by this floating corpse. One more.
Beneath our blooms and clover
it’s a graveyard out there: beloved felines, disemboweled
possum, the bird that hit the window.
Sleek stiff hair, already smelly,
it slides off the shovel and into the back-fence hole
beside the compost. Dust to dust.
Air, water, earth.
The fire of sun
steams off the heavy dew.
All our bodies fall into what comes next.
Et in arcadia the heat of life slips
quickly down to cold, once the course is run.
Morning light skids down the shingles.
Peas and basil lift with the warming air.
My stomach turns inside me.
I’m the only one
in this joint who knows the end.
If this is the first day, if this is the last
it will be enough to have lived it
giving thanks for the red of the swamp
maple, the yellow of dandelion––
for lilac on the edge of the field
and red-winged blackbird’s pale blue
eggs spotted and scrawled with brown
and purple, hidden in a cup of marsh
grass, visible to One who watches over
and calls forth the life that stirs
in that reedy grass.
I dug the well an inch at a time
through matted grass, soil and gravel
clay and soft rock, down and down
’til at nine feet the water flowed.
The vein was slow when it first bled
but now the channel cleared of dross
pumps pure from the heart of earth
and cannot be turned off.
In dream I heard the tolling
of a distant bell, heavy and rich
yet hollow and dull
it tolled eleven o’clock.
I looked through the window to see
a rush of snow before great wind
and there in the sky at the same time
moon and sun without contradiction.
Unclear whether it was night or day
What’s going on? was all I could say.
Words from Revelation came:
See, I make all things new.
Write these matters down
for the words are trustworthy and true.