Samuel Willoughby: Two Poems
Moonlight Sonata | My Mother Says Iím Buried in the Wasatch Mountains
The brown of the Ford truck alone,
or the likelihood of hearing
The Moonlight Sonata
lifting itself over dead corn stalks
on some clean October evening
It would be enough to leave it there.
Only there is my father, ten years old,
lying in a ditch to avoid
my drunken grandfather.
He will stay there for a few hours,
until my grandmother returns
from her meeting with the women
of the church. He will think
over and over that his father
is never home early on Wednesday nights,
that his mother is never late.
Every twenty minutes or so the screen door
will swing open. There will be swearing,
and the thirsty drag of boots on dirt.
When the steps come close,
he will hold himself impossibly still,
so that his breathing almost stops
just enough through the nostrils
to smell vomit and whiskey
stiffening on cotton. He is grateful
his fatherís truck was loud
coming up the driveway.
He does not know if the pianist
across the corn field is playing
to comfort him or to frighten him.
My Mother Says Iím Buried in the Wasatch Mountains
I should be glad of another death.
She said it was me,
T. S. Eliot
lying in the palm of her hand,
four months in the making.
Her body was still
in tremors from
the small shock
of passing a dark nebula
onto white sheets:
The stiff knife cramps,
and then a collapse so slight
it might have happened
I was gone,
a lazy stillness
in my already blue eyes.
Even so, she took care
that the water was warm,
that each fold
was washed of pinkish gel
and black clots of blood,
that I was dry
in one of the cloth napkins
used only on special occasions.
She placed me in a shoe box
Nike I hope, the child of Styx
and walked me into the woods;
She found a space
among the stiff sage
and the common larkspur,
opened the earth
with her hands,
and replaced her unfinished work.
Samuel Willoughby's poems have appeared in The Midwest Quarterly, Southwestern American Literature, and elsewhere.