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Kevin Casey

A Shared Bearing

A dragonfly slices the mottled sky
to sections of sapphire and white, then falls –
a cracked whip – to the bow of the canoe.

And balanced on the centerline, I might
make of it a ruby-bodied compass
needle, figurehead or cross, to give more

meaning to the meeting. But the same
cool breath that stills its clicking wings and curls
these rising mists stays my mind's own wheeling,

so it's enough that we both warm ourselves
in the bow wave of the sun as it glides
along the darkened edge of silent pines,
and, for now, that we share this same bearing.

Night Sounds, Early Summer

Through the squint-eyed slot at the bottom
of the window, the chirping of tree frogs

toddles in – dew-glazed toe pads trailing shreds
of night air and ripened balsam poplar;

the pond that sleeps inside the cedars
lies pressed to the valley's floor, still and deep,

beyond the reach of the frail and glinting
finger bones of stars. And then the sound

of a single loon, billowing like pine smoke,
moss-sodden, slowly tumbling along

the line of hills that stretches to the morning;
still dreaming, you answer, your own thin voice

faint and forlorn, poured from a vacant nest
thatched with cattail down and water lilies.

Burnt Houses

Three burnt houses
along that length of road –
three blackened beads
on an asphalt chaplet.

Charred cellar mouths,
fieldstone jawbones rigored
open, gaping skyward –
What dark chorus

do they sing that
I should hear,
what prayer chanted
by that grim triptych?

Sorry to Part

We met again in
this poverty of time,

beneath fractured hills
and the black, jagged

line of spruce,
where the north wind

entwined us in sheer,
glaucous ribbons,

and the sun
scraped its thin arc

above the pewter lake.
My memory

of your leaving
was made of a moment

in the curved,
dry rib of that place.

A Thing Slips Away

In the jangling haywire of morning,
sorting cares and chores that swarm like blackflies
above the kitchen table, I see it
lying forsaken in the late May sun –

nothing scolds like an untended garden.
As sullen as a slighted child, it clings
to the dooryard's edge, sulking, obliging
a host of lowly vagrants out of spite:

thistle, crabgrass and the wanton bindweed's
shameless blue trumpets blowing – all riot
on the rich, unbroken soil. And I'd wrench
them, stalk and stem, pitch their lifeless bodies

over the wire fence's woven wall,
except for the shingles that December's
winds misplaced, and the guileless piles of ash
the ravening chainsaw eyed all April.

And with every day, the green fire spreads,
as the meadow moves to reclaim its own.
Neglect nurtures only neglect, until –
grafted with regret – a thing slips away,

and we welcome the frost's final tilling,
and the abiding stillness winter sows.

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