Saturday, March 7, 2009

A Field Near Grayslake

Well, next Saturday is spring. We will send Harry off into the wind. It was 60 yesterday, 40 and rain today. So who knows what kind of craziness we'll see next week. 27 years ago, just typing that is scary enough, one of the assignments in poetry workshop (taught by Paul Carroll, who later wrote a fantastic book on Pablo Neruda) was to write a poem about spring without it really being about spring. That rascal. About that time, I was already writing "Rapid Transit" in my fiction workshop, so you can see where my themes were leaning. Some of this poem is, as will be stated, based in fact. A local girl disappeared and her body was found the following spring (this was about 1979 or 1980), the town wasn't Grayslake, but I always liked that place and the way it was spelled. Anyhow. Here's my spring poem.


Spring has not come
this year:
a relentless winter
of cop killings
and desert wars
has melted
into an uncaring summer
of night terrors and
daytime chest pings.
It is only May
and already silverfish
breed on my walls
as I look at my city -
like a whore in a doorway
hot and moist
with sweat,
it beckons my gauzy gaze.
An unwanted wind
branches against my east window,
scratching negatives
into my
mind. She was
that last night:
blonde hair teased
and teasing;
eyes hushed blue
as the December twilight
(that last night)
her neck a pillar
on which all that face
is displayed.
All that face,
but mostly the eyes,
the eyes that hold
the night that fades and swims,
back into focus
as the small black dots
of your thin
newsprint face
on the obituary page
taken in the days when
you still had all
your skin.
It's been a year
and I don't need
moonlight splinters
to see the neck
a pillar slaughtered
on which all that face
was discarded
in April weeds
after being ripped
with an ice
found at the scene.
I want spring
to come. What
were you doing
in Grayslake?
Was I there, too?
I have no answers,
only the corpse
of mere