This Morning’s Walk
It begins as usual. Seventeen steps to where
my driveway joins the road – a shallow
stream bonding with the slow, black meander
of its mother river. Turn right – patient strides
past the neighbor’s yard where a pine looms
as tall as Rapunzel’s prison. I consider asking
an unseen owl to let down its hair – but here
such magic ends. The stockade fence, wood slats
tipped like sharpened swords, fails to startle
imaginations. And no enchanted lady rises
from a street puddle’s drowsy water to offer
steel or blade. Although my lips siphon breath
from lungs, shape air into soft songs, rodents
fail to parade behind me, their hearts bent
on corn and meal. I doubt tree gnomes will
poke their smiles from under twisted knots,
offer pipes heavy with spiced tobacco. Still,
breezes are sweet. Turtles crawl above the pond’s
water, mount stone perches as sunlight punctures
ebbing clouds – the warmth my skin has sought.
Where I’ll Be
A small white chapel
on a road still carved
with wagon wheels,
dotted with the footprints
of a boy who, after prayers,
tosses acorns at a wren perched
on a square of caged suet.
Steeple bells clang stiff
tongues against the afternoon.
A cat, pawing through thick weed,
stops for a moment – listens.
Norm the Night Janitor
He savors shadow, night
webbed in the stair well
where dust skitters quick
as mice and a slain cherry
Snapple has bled out. Soon,
he’ll hoof over gymnasium
wood, clang keys against
gray lockers, a minotaur
dragging a chain flail through
its labyrinth. He absorbs the day’s
sounds: suck of children
kissing under fire alarms, squish
of milk shake between white teeth.
They scratch his ears like echoes,
the rapid wink of black wings -
but no time to revel: the boiler naps
in its hole: a dragon that must be primed
if stone walls are to warm by morning.
S. Thomas Summers is a teacher of English
at Wayne Hills High School. He is the author of Death Settled
Well and Rather, It Should Shine. He also is English/Literature
Education Workshop Leader.