Two Poems By Barry Ballard

White Ash

My wife drinks from the cup of her humble
concealments this morning. This is a day
for disappearance and melting one's will
into the air. (And the air here is inlaid
like that in New York, seared from the flames
with white ash and smoke.) But there's no reason
to speak. There's been talk about fear and blame
all day the day before. Instead I imagine

her own impermanence and how that doctor
broke down when he had to direct children
to the morgue. I imagine too much
before she even reaches the front door,
when we hold hands and then break apart, when
we feel the rift of falling, of losing touch.


A Premature Death

You are the dry fields sacrificed to fire,
the knotted bales of all that you've thought-gone
to flame. Heat bleeding from the crying song
still alive inside your body, its desire
still beating in waves above you, as if
the sky was holding your last breath. And hope
is away somewhere looking through the smoke
thinking what a waste it is to lose this,

to send it all back into the earth- cindered,
with all of the anger we were afraid
to touch, to see where it once was fold
after fold of expectation, with texture
and expression like yellow-gold grain,
and never leaving, - never growing old.

Barry Ballard