today can take your breath away
by Sheila-Na-Gig Editions
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Marc Swan’s poems have recently been published or forthcoming in Atlanta Review, Gargoyle, The Broadkill Review, Verse Daily, among others. today can take your breath away, his fourth collection, was published in 2018 by Sheila-na-gig Editions. He lives with his wife Dd in Freeport, Maine.
In the midst of packing,
moving years of accumulated stuff,
among the unearthed items
a Richard Avedon coffee-table book
from 1977, inside a dedication,
and a handwritten note
from Cathy, a woman I’d loved,
and according to the note
she loved me—
that love thing. When you’re in it,
it’s so real that regardless of how it ends
there’s a lingering feeling
often shadowed by a new love
When imagination takes hold
We’ve left city center on a two-lane,
slick and clean, smoother than in town,
headed west to a market
specializing in sausage—tonight’s entree.
Road dips and rises, overlooks
the valley and Rivière Bouctouche
It catches my imagination as a place
I want to be: rolling hills, rich green
foliage, homes and lawns well maintained.
We’re not sure of directions
so I stop at the post office,
a one-story building just off the highway.
I’m struck by the Postmistress. Is that correct
or maybe Ms Postmaster? She’s early
forties plain in a comfortable way
like those old corduroys—a bit thread worn,
but still pleasant to own. Her voice
is the draw, twangs like a tired guitar,
but open and friendly. We talk of taxes
even on stamps. She nods, “We get healthcare,
free education.” I then ask
if she goes to movies. She looks surprised,
says yes, and I ask if she’s seen
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri
or Fargo and then I tell her, and qualify
it’s a compliment, she could be
Frances McDormand’s sister or cousin.
There’s a facial resemblance,
and the voice, eyes closed
I could be Joel Coen talking with my wife
in our rustic cottage
on the hillside above Bolinas Lagoon.