Live Encounters Poetry & Writing, Volume One, December 2020.
Tobi Alfier is a multiple Pushcart nominee and multiple Best of the Net nominee. “Slices of Alice & Other Character Studies” was published by Cholla Needles Press. “Symmetry: earth and sky” was published by Main Street Rag. She is co-editor of San Pedro River Review. www.bluehorsepress.com.
Summer Storm Fragment
There’s no kayaking for us tonight
under the polished coin of a full-lit moon.
The water’s high, unpredictable.
The sinuous creek’s a full-blown silt edged river.
I saw a blue heron today, posed in still-life
along the water’s edge. If the tides were as calm
as that bird, we’d be headed out now, slipping away
to that spot, the island just off-shore.
Whispers would bounce between kayaks and fog-shot cloud.
Shadows like comfortable friends would guide us.
Not tonight. Our whispers would stumble,
the boats would rock, oars out for balance like dancers
on a tightrope. We have known each other for years,
lived on these banks for longer than we’ve known.
Tonight can wait. Take the thermos, the jackets and gin
to the barn, the warm inviting space.
We’ll climb up, hang our feet over the loft’s edge,
talk about everything and nothing until the blush of dawn.
We’ll listen for the warbles and songs of the morning birds,
the sound as wildflowers unfurl in the oncoming daybreak.
A Delicate Constitution
That’s what they said about her.
Quite happy to walk down streets,
frighteningly bright sun reflecting
on the back of her neck and in eyes
the pale blue of huskies and newborns,
a song in her mind, slight humming
on her lips, it seemed she had no cares.
She did have some demons; you’d never know.
Filigree on closed eyelids brought
terror rather than peace, and the scurrying
of animals hit like a shot of tequila
with no lemon to soften the swallow.
It had always been that way,
especially at night. Anything around
the next corner in her worst imagination.
In truth she saw herself a daughter of the light.
She never saw the moon’s abalone glow
or the spark of fireflies in fields of wheat.
Past twilight she saw labyrinths of endless walls
reflecting shadows and the dark.
An aria of fear for nameless reasons,
all she saw was murkiness and shadow.
Coahoma, Mississippi Narrative
A soon to be broiling Tuesday morning.
On a packed dirt road between two forgotten towns
stands a tiny church nestled in fertile earth,
waiting for a small band of beauty bringers.
Some will make sure the bright white is welcoming,
a few will sweep the porch and miniscule insides,
one will climb a short staircase and polish the bell.
At noon they stop and rest inside,
their baptism by sweat—they are satisfied.
Passed over by the interstate there is no sadness here.
The church is not left to falter, rather it chooses
to remain. A traveling pastor comes weekly to preach.
Many a wedding and wake has brought all together.
More than one match made over Jello salad,
better than over a bottle—
the young are compelled to stay, not fly the roost.
A quiet graveyard behind, protected from sight
by fields of cotton. Unseen from the street,
only the ones who must know do know,
they tend to it with reserve and respect.
All travelers are accepted in this church.
Above suspicion. On this day too hot for asphalt
and door handles step indoors. Go out when the sun falls,
the dark won’t find your shadow.
Of Fog and Dream
Fog drifts over the fields
the way a blind man touches
a quiet understanding of all,
fingertip memory of much.
No need to speak, just drift along
with time the way the gray of morning
waits for the warmth of sun and breeze
to chase it all away.
Only the blind man has no need to run.
He can read a person’s trust
in the crags of their face—man or woman,
he is a good judge of character,
has entire conversations without a word.
To meet him is to understand a gift
he gives to you to learn about yourself.
I met him last night. I was still,
something I was never very good at.
He was kind, accepting of the brandy
that helped me relax. He placed my hands
upon his face. I closed my eyes, mimicked
his exploration of brows, closed lids,
the shape of upper lip, his chin a cleft
unlike mine. Short hair unlike mine.
Warm breath upon each other’s palms.
Like the fog, he never wavered as he turned
the color of shadow and was gone,
before I’d even opened dreamy eyes.
© Tobi Alfier