Two Poems by Morton Marcus

DAWN At sunrise pebbles tremble, trees shake. Stones jostle in an ancient hut above the Balkan valley where all the things that disappear beneath the earth- thigh bones, combs, winecups and wedding rings- Lie hidden, still. Surely on such a morning as this the sunlight spearing into a dark corner must be glinting on the lost key that unlocks the staircase into the earth where all the bones that have disappeared will climb once more into the light, singing songs of hallelujah. I should know better. Each dawn this battered planet repairs itself in the only way it can-burying fists and rusty knives.
THE OTHER -1- It doesn’t take long in this world to realize that you’re the other: that the fried chicken and mashed potatoes, arranged beside the buttered broccoli, is a meal someone else won’t eat; that the GI blown apart in Asia, bits of hair and intestine plastered to the banyan leaves, isn’t you, and that the high school athlete paralyzed for life isn’t you, either. They’re your brother or your friend, cousin or acquaintance. Maybe a stranger. Maybe. But you are always the other, the one who survives, who chews the chicken, lopes into the end-zone, and dates the girl he watched from across the street. And when you fumble among her springing straps, he is beside you, reaching out like a breeze through the curtains, circling your body and hers, wrapping you both in a warm wind. -2- The coffee steams up from the white cup: nutty, a chocolate sweetened with the rich, dark earth, with all the dreams sighing in the rich, dark earth, all the unaccomplished dreams of the dead. You sip the coffee, lumber through the tunnel of each day, eat, dance, make love, imagining eyes that watch from the road not taken, the tree not climbed, the woman not loved, the auto crash you did not die in. And because even the strongest men beat fists on their foreheads, asking, “Why me? Why him? Why? Why?” and only the wind answers, the wind and the tall darkness; because we begin and end in that darkness-this life, which we didn’t want and never asked for, is, at least for a time, a sort of answer; is, for a time, a sort of reason; is, right now, the only reason to holler a greeting at the sun, grab our loneliness with both hands and waltz with it around the living room, until our breath is gone and our heart aches for love, for life, for all the dead. Morton Marcus