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Four views from a wicker rocker--
By Jerry R. Strong (AKA Jake)

I.

This snapshot was taken, I suppose
with a precision-engineered camera
with its wealth of tiny screws and levers
and pleated leather bellows.
German, I expect and expensive.

It was a difficult time or shortly after
we had money then... the......
I am told.

I look at the picture closely now:
A man stands on a sidewalk,
behind him is a row of big brick homes.
He is in a top hat and long gray coat.
There is a boy on his shoulder in a brown suit

he wears a cap with the ear flaps pulled down.

He holds up the boy like a prize.
It is me and it didn't work out that way.
I am told.

I look at the unsmiling face and eyes.
There is a word in Russian... Skushno.
It is difficult to translate......
It means more than dreamy boredom;
A spiritual void that sucks you in
like a vague but intense longing.

Perhaps we never really change
I am told.

II.

In front of a brass spittoon
filled with silk flowers
chessmen sit in quiet discontent.
An oil lamp props up a picture of my grandson.
To the left a still wrapped Christmas cane.

From here to there, everywhere
you look are books.
I consider this:

Are my impulses Jung... jealously Proust?
Do I fear death because of Bernanos,
stumble toward nothing do to Kafka?

Even this beloved Thomas Mann and I
seem second hand at best.

III.

A beam
streams a rhomboid finger
across my oriental rug.

My dog Indy
finds her place in the warmth
then curls in an almost instant sleep.

The sun
illuminates the dust
that filters through the long afternoon

covering her,
and the fringe of little threads
that move like cilia in the light and shadow.

She sleeps unaware
of this silent dirty rehearsal
for another place.

While I, in a darker corner,
listen quietly to an intermezzo
by Mascagni.


IV.

Below the leather hat
on the hall-tree in the corner
my white dress shirt
with the French cuffs pressed down
hangs like an armless man
whose shoulders bunch
as if remembering some distant phantom pain.

The new gray suit, wrinkled now,
waits long after the music is over
for another dance at his daughter's wedding
yesterday.

Time moves as quietly as the spin of the earth.
I think I have very little left to notice
as I slump deeper into this living semi-dream,
the rest slips silently away.




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Document last modified on: 08/20/1998

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