My apologies for the mountain
that without syntax or sound coaxed us to the back yard.
In middle Illinois, it rises, unseen, mystical on a horizon just past
the rows of houses that, not ten years before, were fields of corn
and, at some time beyond reckoning, a salt sea teeming
with coelacanths and Tully monsters, where now the dog
rolls on my plate of grass, squeaks his rubber pork chop toy, answers
the calls of spring’s immigrant birds, hungry to feed their nestlings.
The mountain has kept me from writing all these things,
their precepts, practicalities, their ultimate causes.
Instead, we loll here with our Buster, who we would be
if either of us were blessed enough to be this dog,
loyal and only slightly brave, already white around the muzzle,
already slowed, aging away toward adventures without his master –
perhaps there to chase incessant gulls on a coastline shaded
by rocked and piney peaks that make sense only to a nose like his.
after Odyssey, Book IV
You think what animates a creature – lives
inside him – comes from deep inside him.
But after such hard years, the land denuded,
it’s scarcely clever to pull the rigs and spars, these lines
From vessels set to take us home; form this gift,
this built thing, you believe can speak to you –
An object taken in to complement your mood today
that, you hope, will whisper, echo every secret you can coax,
Which is exactly what we crave. No victory, but you,
our Helen, outside, singing to this wooden thing
In the voice of everyone we’ve ever loved. We leave
for you this silent horse, a poem that you now murmur into life.
Rodd Whelpley has work appearing or forthcoming in Antiphon, The Chagrin River Review, Driftwood Press, Eunoia Review, Literary Orphans, The Naugatuck River Review, Right Hand Pointing, Spillway, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, Triggerfish Critical Review, and elsewhere.