Cost of Living
First, aristocratic, aloof as a god, immobile,
and then, so sleek and so spare you might mistake
him for a Brancusi, a great blue heron divides
the river a few feet beyond the damfall’s roil,
confronting the perpetual tumble of water.
Brown and gray and variations thereof prevail.
And the phenomenal world is purest potential.
It’s like the desert here. All day long a slow
rain falls. Fat drops resonate against the roof
like waves’ laps against an anchored hull
while the colors far within the bulbs we planted
last week assemble in a trajectory toward spring
and from equally distant reaches of the universe,
within the heron’s heart a black hole forms.
If the priest who buried him that day had known
he’d blown his brains out with a shotgun
he’d be lost in the dark wood of suicides by now
rather than here at my feet in consecrated ground.
A battered volume of Nick Adams stories,
cover and front matter torn away to the title page
a cheap green plastic pencil sharpener,
a pencil stub protruding from it, bathetic tokens
there in tribute to a notably unsentimental man;
and, as if fallen from the pines standing sentry
two dollars or so in pennies scattered all across
the rectangular granite slab that covers his grave
deployed as if a barricade, a last line of defense
against the powers that trailed him this far.
M.K. Meder lives in San Francisco. His poems have appeared in New Letters, Karamu, The Raven Chronicles, The American Poetry Journal, Pinyon, Mudfish, Rattle, American Literary Review, South Carolina Review, Peregrine, Oyez, Cutbank, Xanadu, and Haight Ashbury Literary Journal among many others. Work is forthcoming in Riversedge and Rosebud.