Age Tries to Recall Youth’s Departure
Age collects in those pouches under
your eyes—age and forgotten hours
collaborating, swelling translucent skin bags
the way pails fill to spilling with what drips
from maple spiles, all the sweetness
of life thinned nearly to its own watery
essence of absence. Other parts of the body dry,
husk-like and fragile as will-o-the-wisp,
skin that has its own rules for folding
and draping, resilience, no longer subcutaneous,
has gone missing, that certain inherence
to become supple, to burgeon, has slid away,
unseen, unnoticed, in some quiet moment
between midnight and dewfall as the body
rolled in sleep’s surf and surge when youth,
its limberness and ability for renewal,
drifted off on one or the other of time’s relentless
equatorial currents, its first tentative, languid
back strokes alternating with slow, lazy crawl,
becoming more urgent the further it left the body behind.
After the Painting “Sea Sprites in Flight” by John Anster Fitzgerald (1860)
When the combers have calmed
and the moonlight claimed
the horizon once again
and the sea lies silver-scaled
as the sides of sardines
flip-a-flop on the deck
of a pilchard-fisher’s boat,
then the nymphs of the sea
rise from the haze and swirl
the soft swards of the bay
and lift their arms
and sing with the surf
the tales of the sailors
and sea-faring men
who have slid into the deep.
As the moon entwines
and spritely wings swish and flash,
and the water slips up on the sands,
we gather to write their names once more
though each swell of the tide
lifts them back to the sea.
“For that is where they belong,”
the sea fairies chant,
with tongues that sound
of droplets and spume,
“here in the sea
where her moods remind their bones
of the wind in their eyes,
and the taste on their lips
of the green that can only be found
on a moonlit night after a storm
on the skin of the scrimshaw sea.”
A Father Who Lives Longer Than His Son — A Villanelle
A father who lives longer than his son
learns truths he wishes he did not know:
the novel ends before the tale’s begun,
the bet is lost before the race is run.
Rivers, it seems, from seas to mountains flow
for fathers who live longer than their sons.
The blackest sky’s at noon, then midnight sun,
the wheat is harvested before it’s sown,
the novel ends before the tale’s begun.
Death dispensed by prayer, blessings from a gun;
a rock-steady man who wavers to and fro
is the father who lives longer than his son.
The sun-burnt man who’s never seen the sun,
the catcher-caught fly ball that was never thrown,
the novel that ends before the tale’s begun.
The weightless waif who weighs more than a ton,
the immigrant who never left his home,
the father who lives longer than his son
whose novel ends before the tale’s begun.
Roy Beckemeyer’s latest poetry collection is Mouth Brimming Over (2019 Blue Cedar Press). Stage Whispers (2018 Meadowlark Books) won the 2019 Nelson Poetry Book Award. Amanuensis Angel (2018 Spartan Press) comprised ekphrastic poems inspired by depictions of angels in works of modern art. Music I Once Could Dance To (2014 Coal City Press) was a 2015 Kansas Notable Book. Beckemeyer lives in Wichita, Kansas and is a retired engineer and scientific journal editor. His work has been nominated for Pushcart and Best of the Net awards and was selected for Best Small Fictions 2019.