They’re cutting down the forest around your bed.
The dear leaning birches, and the chickadees that flip
in the feathered branches, the soughing wind crisp
with pine pitch on your tongue and the rough promise
of bark scrolling papercuts along your shins, all collapsing,
shattering into shadows across the blank white walls
you inhabit, the heavy brass of the bed I can remember
creaking the scent of iron in my own bones. Bob Dylan might
have mentioned it in Hole in the Wall. Remember?
He was counting those cans for Pat Garrett? Or was it
Billy the Kid? You wouldn’t know. You don’t wear a hat.
Black or white. Not since the black one got too tight
for your scalp. You don’t. Canoodling bareheaded in
the afternoon with the whole kit and kaboodle flapdoodle
unforgotten toodooloodle. You know when the birches bend
there’s gonna be an ice storm. Start salting the walk.
You could eat that bread and money, honey, with the whole
gammon eggs can of ginger beer. Before that hurricane of
unnecessary progress. Hear the sweet sweet voices of the vultures
singing in the dawn. You wore your seat belt. You set aside
a nest of money for your autumn needs. Like me, little
Shou Shou, with my attic boxes packed with rain. I’ll be ready
to greet Lowly Worm when you make that last visit to
the Shoals, in your colossal midget boat. At last ankyloglossic,
your tongue cleaved and clapping in the bell of your
jaw. Look, there’s my tiny bell twinkling on the silver horn moo.
Pediatrician Kelley White worked in inner city Philadelphia and now works in rural New Hampshire. Her poems have appeared in journals including Exquisite Corpse, Rattle and JAMA. Her most recent books are Toxic Environment (Boston Poet Press) and Two Birds in Flame (Beech River Books). She received a 2008 Pennsylvania Council on the Arts grant.