Her hands absorb the soapy water.
It quells her foggy views through an aged
kitchen window, those night silhouettes: row of
pine, that flowering pink tree, Kwanzan
but weeping like Shidarezakura, she never learned
the name for the cherry tree without
fruit, but it looked like the two of these.
Photographs of Tokyo or the mountain,
Yoshino-Yama, covered in trees.
She could still hear one son crying in a bassinette for
milk while her oldest son lay dying
in the family room, the familiar couch,
the rust-colored, chevron afghan covered him.
The daughters looked like the blossoms near
the castle town of Hirosaki, fragile, drifting.
It was enough to still hear them all,
the way the sprinklers startled her, rain on
her sandals, the tended sidewalk, manicured
for the old robed in their dark rentals.
April 18, 1995
Days you remember, don’t vanish—
they instead go the way of ghosts.
Hours can float like that, the way aspen
leaves shiver and twine when a cold
front bustles through an autumn town,
these mouse sails seem to brace in wind,
wrinkle their noses as though they know
what you know, wary citron veins.
We can break off this way, like driftwood.
Afternoon walk, Galway by Salthill,
wading into pebbled rock, your boat shoes
perched as I failed at skipped stones; tapas bar,
dim arches, catacombs, candled tables into a grove.
A proposal could turn-up again,
afloat in the zone of spring tides, waiting for the sea.
So long after, that wooden year could be found lodged
in a pool beneath igneous rock and goose barnacles,
outside the Puget Sound.
Later, somewhere in the plains of Cheyenne,
loping about between the sage brush,
then higher than the cottonwoods, near stratus and dutiful mist.
A wren’s wing brushes past a lewd word,
but he manages balance, bears weight
on his tail feathers, the rudder steers
his course through billowing blue verbiage,
those clouds once vows, gasps, apologies,
shutter some first, before drifting toward
Molly Kugel Merkner teaches at the University of Colorado at Denver and West Chester University. Her poems have appeared most recently in The Buddhist Poetry Review, Poetry East, and Subtropics. contact