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Poetry

Alan Walowitz

Alan Walowitz is a Contributing Editor at Verse-Virtual, an Online Community Journal of Poetry. His chapbook, Exactly Like Love, was published by Osedax Press. His full-length book, The Story of the Milkman and Other Poems, is available from Truth Serum Press. Forthcoming from Arroyo Seco Press is In the Muddle of the Night, a chapbook written with poet Betsy Mars.

Driving to Lisieux (1976)

August, France:
no room to be had by the sea.
The Deauville road winds south toward nowhere,
layered only with leavings:
the moon leads a stray on a late-night run.
The farmer bids his boy goodbye.
Strangers leave their sorrows
to the care of the ineffable,
pinned to the sleeve of the heart.

The broken village bows to sounds
that don’t frighten anymore–
the war gone, but forever under repair:
heroic statues have been erected;
local-lies swallowed whole;
while the foreign and vast unknown
huddle beneath their markers.
Spires list against the scaffolds
then withdraw as we approach.

Trees that shaped our route
become the vaults of the cathedral,
readying for Vespers.
They tender their leaves
as our lady of leisure,
sprinkles flowers on the cheeks
of the lame, and even the incontinent.
Greeting loser and seeker,
she finds room for all
in her lap of modest luxury.

In the Wake

No one seems content to go with the current,
though we know we might skim across the surface
a little quicker if we’d only stick
to the middle of the river and wait to be taken.
But soon we’re off steering across our own wake–
the bouncing and jangling prepare us, we figure,
for the real rattling to come,
and might make us more adept at hanging on.

It’s afterwards that’s so unpredictable.
A week, a month in relative silence,
and then who knows what there is to say?
So much blather about those who’ve gone,
especially the much-too-young
and those, of a sudden, lost,
with no chance to rehearse in advance
how a real goodbye might have been.

He was generous, lithe,
and reddened by the sun,
almost to perfection.
It’s enough those who remain, to “face it”–
what a strange, tilted turn
from what was till then a quiet voyage–
must dwell in the place we’re all
steering, as if destined to be
stuck in ourselves, as if on a sandbar.

He had such beautiful feet,
she who remains might finally say–
so much like the river at evening.
Who’d ask her to explain, or disagree?

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