The 2River View 23.1 (Fall 2018)

Mark Conway

in the disease that is ending

no one told him
his chemo would make him clairvoyant
at least in predicting
small changes of light
he saw the phases of his children
darken after weeks at the seaside—
took pleasure
in the glow that hung
in the air of the sterilized bedroom
the hot days spooling off
of their aggregate skin


he watched them / amazed—
not at how fast
the sun left their faces
but how easily  
they let it go

in the first bird

rain pours down our inner
darkened streets:
my unenlightenment / finally /
nearly done ::
I hear the mind of god
is open to the south—
even trees fly
in the wind
and time is on our side—
I heard that
in the scarecrow church – the one that sleeps headdown ::
way above the opened ground
the sun hides inside
a double coat of chrome—


my father came back 
inside a bird—
the cardinal sexed in red ::
he chose it
to represent his piety –
we see it move like his wet mouth almost
every night
then fly off at dusk ::
he lets go 
a knotted chord of notes 
spreads his wings with grace:
all this from
that grief-struck man who once
lumbered on this earth

Mark Conway’s third book of poetry, rivers of the driftless region, will be published by Four Way Books in April of 2019.  His work has appeared in American Poetry Review, Boston Review, Kenyon Review Online, The Paris Review, Ploughshares, and Slate. He lives in rural Minnesota.

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