poem index

sign up to receive a new poem-a-day in your inbox

The Return

Frances Richey
What do you say when you've forgotten
how the grass smells,
married to the dark
soil crumbling in your hands?
When the sun makes a bed for you to lie in?
When a voice you've never heard
has missed you,
singing down your bones--
it's taken so long to get here.

Now I'm breathing in the mountains
as if I'd never left.
And when I go inside
I'm surprised to see a lime green worm
has landed on my shorts,
inching his way across a strange white country.

He stops and rises,
leaning out of himself--
a tiny periscope
peering from the glow of the underdream
where there are no symbols for death.

He looks around.

I place my index finger
at the tip of what I guess to be his head,
though I don't see an eye or an ear,
or the infinitesimal feet
as he crawls across my palm--
a warmer planet.

Lately I've wondered
what hand guides my way when I am lost.

I can't feel him
though I see him rise again,
survey the future, flat
and broken into five dead ends.
I curl my fingers to make a cup
and carry him like a blessing to the garden--

What will happen next is a mystery--
to be so light in the world, to leave no tracks.

From The Burning Point by Frances Richey. Copyright © 2004 by Frances Richey. Reprinted by permission of White Pine Press. All rights reserved.

 

From The Burning Point by Frances Richey. Copyright © 2004 by Frances Richey. Reprinted by permission of White Pine Press. All rights reserved.

 

Frances Richey

by this poet

poem
1

Before he left for combat,
he took care of everything:
someone to plow the driveway,
cut the grass.
And the letter he wrote me,
just in case, sealed,
somewhere, in a drawer;
can't be opened,
must be opened
if he doesn't return.
I feel for my keys, 
hear his voice:
Less is better. Late
for work,