Poems by Cynthia Atkins

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When Homer Roams

by Cynthia Atkins

From Canary Winter 2012-13

Cynthia and Homer live on the Maury River and their watershed is the Chesapeake Bay by way of the James River.

It’s pointless calling, my thin voice
caught like gossip gone missing
from the laundry-line of home.
              I’m in no position
to give advice—You have all the knowing
ahead of me. Ears tipped into a tarot card
of portents—Oracle of scent and ethos—
drawn to the outskirts of puddle, leaf,
carcass, anything decayed, snowflake.
              This is your work,
it’s serious business! With every breath,
willing to face death. You hear the sounds,
the vibrations once removed from
where I am not—like just missing
the bus from the bus stop.
              You’ll wait for the kill,
steady, patient as a slow drip
in the well. That carefully made
lining and rill of your jowl flutters
with the nuance of butterfly wings.
The extra flap of skin always expecting
              company—the way we keep
a roll-out sofa for guests. Excuse us our
patio furniture, safe anchors—the area rugs
where you’ve kept vigil, hold the habits
of our remorse. We know how to hold
a camera, we know how to visit
the sick with soup and gifts.
              We’re only human.
Dog of the hearth. Wolf of the wild.
That long yowl is an anthem
unto itself. Stretched out, a rambling train
after the rains. Short days to night.
              My voice calling, beyond the doormat,
the smoke-plumed town, where the lights
are shutting down, and your prints
pander to us—we have no clue.
Phantom warrior showing us
how to bring the words
              back to their bones.

Previously published in the Hawaii Review.

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