Two Poems by Robert Parham


The Third Cutting of Clover

On old Thomasville Road the oaks
grasped one another across the street
to make a shade like no other.

Each spit of sunlight appeared frail,
the promise of something passing
when the shadows shift, large dancers

who owned the floor, the stage, the door.
The canopy came and went, yet seemed
to indicate that once begun there is

no turning back, not so much journey
as a process, no, transformation…
abstract cliches crowded out the truth…

But I’ll drive you there, back thirty years
before the westward field they hayed
became apartments, before the cement

was striped with tar where patching
seemed enough to make for passing,
while the days stacked up like bales

of clover ready for the barn to wait
for its own form of transience…
The cattle too are gone, and John Haynes

who own them, let us stop to shoot
our film before he mowed the final
cutting, third that year: a good one.

 

Learning

I realize, without a hint
from mermaids singing
how I feel: undaunted,

no quaking poet bringing
his disdain for peaches,
no pill-borne drunkard raging

that his life is a bigger “I”
than others’ just a simple men
walking by the sea, just one

who’s seen when the light fall blind
into the belly of the night
that nature isn’t simply staging

death, my dear, but only taking
back the lantern, loaded to guide me
not where paths will lead, but boundaries

that may touch the bare feet their cold
reminders of what shifts, begins in shallows,
readies us who listen for the lightless deep.

Robert Parham