Poems by Brian Heston

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The Peacock

by Brian Heston

From Canary Summer 2015

Brian grew up in Philadelphia, which lies along the banks of the Delaware and Schuylkill rivers.

In the parking lot of Paradise
Convenience in Gainesville,
we searched for your car keys
in a pre-deluge haze.
I hadn't seen you for weeks:
my afternoons spent watching
talk TV, my nights working
graveyard shift. You showed up
without warning to drive me
home. I rummaged my pockets
for those keys, even though
I knew you hadn't handed them
to me. You checked your purse
again, then peered through
every window of your Toyota,
trying to find their faint
glimmer somewhere inside.
The filthy swelter clung
to us, heat lightening brightening
the sky, the peak of Florida
summer, the weather forever ready
to storm. You decided
to retrace your steps. I stayed put,
wondering how to tell you
I was fleeing back to Philadelphia,
away from these buildings
of aqua, these long pale pavements—
the gunmetal Atlantic. When we
first made love, we talked
of South America, living Spartan
in some mountain village.
Now you only spoke of houses
and fences, an animal need
to avoid danger. While waiting
for your return, I heard
what sounded like a woman
screaming. I looked around
the empty lot, but found only
the store’s dumpster. Then out
of the rotten-cabbage dark
stepped a peacock,
his tail feathers shimmering
in the light glowing past
the store’s glass doors.
I didn’t see you come back,
but I could feel you watching too
when he wrenched himself
from the pavement and flew,
laboring his way into
the soupy air just above
Route 20 to the live oaks
on the other side, where he
quickly sank and disappeared
into the dank impenetrable brush.




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