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Glenda Cooper: Three Poems

The Missing Snapshots | Before His Losses Overwhelmed Him | Sunderance

The Missing Snapshots

My brother is the boy beside the pigeon coop
in our backyard, the boy who spent weeks
with wood and saws to build a hutch
for the birds that would awaken us
with soft coos like whispered stories.

My brother is the boy beside the pigeon coop
after another night spent listening
to the clink of ice against crystal,
as our parents poured drink after drink.
He is the boy who heard their voices soar,
as if arguments had wings, and who dared
to sneak out of his room to hide
our fatherís guns against temptation.

My brother is the boy beside the pigeon coop,
a bird cupped in his hands as he smiles at the sheen
of muted grey and green on sun-stroked feathers.
Here, his head is bent towards a bird,
as if he could glean meaning from its song.
He is the boy shaking his head no.

My brother is the boy beside the pigeon coop
who releases the birds, tosses them one by one
into the warm air of a summer afternoon.
He is the one who takes aim
and pulls the trigger—

My brother is the boy who walks away,
dry-eyed, the one who, two years later, sends
a photograph of a man beside a jungle hut,
M16 slung over his shoulder as he listens,
at first light, to the cries of unknown birds.

Before His Losses Overwhelmed Him

Dusk on a summer evening. Heís driving
a í58 Buick west on highway 80, winding
through the East Texas woods. Itís still years
before the interstate will be built, before
his son lies about his age and ships out
to Vietnam, before his daughter marries
a soldier and ends up pregnant in Addis Ababa.

Heís thinking about getting home after a week
on the road, about how good a cool beer will taste.
He considers stopping at a tavern in Tyler,
but has only $3 in his pocket, and payday
is days away. Then, a tree steps onto the road.

At the instant of impact he sees the oak turn
into a big buck, even before its brown body blocks
the fading light, before the windshield stars and chunks
of glass rain onto the dash, before the steering wheel tangles
with antlers that stop just short of his face.

He doesnít remember braking, but the car is marooned
on the gravel shoulder, engine ticking the only sound.
He wonít notice the bruises blooming on his chest
until tomorrow. For now, heíll catch a ride into town
and the tavern, and splurge on Southern Comfort.
He doesnít have enough cash for the Greyhound,
will have to hitchhike home to Dallas anyway.

Heís getting a little hungry, but opts
for a second drink. Later, heíll remember
the strong, wild taste of venison and regret
the waste of all that meat.


    For Amanda

      Is there anything whereof it may be said,
      See this is new?

Beside the coffee-maker, a photograph:
you and I seated atop a small mesa
of luggage outside your college dorm.

I lean against the kitchen counter, wait
for fresh brew, and study your smile—
a year and half a continent away.

Later, Iíll phone to ask if you remember
when you were ten and ran to tell me
that the onions in the garden had gone

walkabout again. Young bulbs borne aloft
on tall stalks choose any sun-struck chance
to fall to earth and be dispersed to fates

far from the mother-plants. A risky thing,
this setting out not knowing
if new roots will find fertile loam or rocky soil.

Still, each season onion offspring bear
another generation,
which will walk away from them.

Poet's Biography:
photo of poet Glenda Cooper's poems have been published in The American Poetry Journal, Conspire, DMQ Review, Eclectica, Lily Literary Review, Melic Review, Mobius, Red River Review, 2River View, Tryst, and other online and print journals. She has been nominated twice for a Pushcart Prize. With her husband and daughter, she lives in Dallas, Texas.

© 1999 - 2003, by the poets featured herein.