Three Poems by Gibson Fay-Leblanc

September 11, 2001

Instead, I see a girl
flying in a swing seat, pig tails
bob in the wind, legs pump,
hands grip the chain.
She reaches the top
of her smiling arc like one
ready to vault into sky.
Gravel, wind, and a view,
Casco Bay. All I can see
are her little thighs' slight rise
off the rubber seat from force
of the toes' kick. Maple,
Birch, and Ash shake in a breeze, sirens,
crows, blocks away. This is
all that comes. This is how I breathe.

When It Comes

In the middle of a block while the dog squats in high grass.
Ten minutes past time to leave for work. Today, it's a crack
in the frontal lobe widening under the forehead -
on either side a brush fire of hurt. It comes when it wants.

I've written strings of haiku long as the sun-strewn horizon
they try to match, odes to black tea that steams wrinkles
from under eyes, and ignored the urge at the office desk
while the screen rolls over tables, infection rate pie charts,
words that serve every purpose but music.
I will write the first
resource guide in hexameter or needs assessment as canzone
or the sestina-cum-business letter (request, summarize,
development, forward-thinking, thank you). As I type, check
I'm not supposed to recall how the lilacs and cherry trees
disappeared once their blooms fell, the angle of shadow
that filled Janet's cheek as she stared up from her last bed.

I tell myself you can't be two places at once, and I wake
in the dark from a dream of Mickey's thinning limbs as they
wade into clear blue saltwater, whole reams of neat-columned
typeface replaced by stacks of the patchwork birch paper
I felt with one finger as I passed in March,
snow shoeing for inspiration.

Finding your voice

The thing you wish you could say
said in a slender length of wind
that leans momentarily on a bare maple
shivering in morning cold. The great line
you wish you could write perched on the window lip,
chest blazing orange as low sun - it flew
as soon as you moved to grab it. You wait,
lamplight, watch the same few aspens and roofs,
sky opens its blinds black to gray to blue.
The trembling pine dropped an arm into the yard.
All of the ways you try to understand
the world, see yourself as the maple, pine,
and robin, fit them into your sense
and the whole time they watch you
leaning, creaking, calling, letting you breathe.

Gibson Fay-Leblanc