I was brought up and still live in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia so I rely on imagery derived from the natural landscape to explore human relationships. My wife, Elizabeth, and I have two daughters and three grandchildren. I have been an architectural woodcarver for over 35 years and have written numerous articles and three books on the subject. My poetry has appeared in Shenandoah, Green Mountains Review, The Lyric, The South Carolina Review, Southern Poetry Review, and others.
Parable Dressed in a Coat
My mother takes a delinquent coat
from the hall hanger house, it is my father’s
color, his weave, would I wear it?
Of a previous fashion, of a body now gone,
a button missing, I return home to a man
waiting on my back porch, our town’s version
of handyman, and give him the herringbone
I have inherited. Thankful, he seems to know
its figure, its history, but pleas in the present tense.
I give him my wallet’s worth, say the best way
to carry a coat is to put it on. And when
he is gone, I should have given more:
perhaps pockets hold more treasure
than a light load of lint.
I am a part of all I have met.
Driving back from wedding warmth,
north of Chapel Hill, a gray afternoon drizzle
smears weedy fields and neglected lawns.
Among postcard houses, weathered gravestones
have passwords that serve as lifelines,
wire fences stitch family patches, barbed and electric.
We see ahead blue lights of police cruisers:
pick-ups are parked along the shoulders
as though for a country auction.
There is an angelic florescence from the market,
silhouettes flock and gawk,
fictions like dollar bills are in every pocket.
Slowing, we see the betrayal of words:
a father perhaps, sprawls on parking lot pavement.
The argument is over the pistol proclaims. Blood
rivers toward the young man’s screaming Nikés.
The car ahead brakes with fireworks
across our windshield, makes a U-turn;
we continue into the crooked dark
making distance more meaningful.
The rain is merciless until we are home.
The Imperative of Wings
Fences are for those who cannot fly.
Hang the window on the wall like an angelgram—
through which the landscape beckons:
that other country of greens and golds,
in which mourning doves are split from barn boards,
and conquer fences with the ease of fog.
Not the secret side of paradise,
not where scrubbing shadows smudge fond memory,
not where you have to snake each question
through its own venom. But the imperative
of wings, like visible music bursting from those colors,
calling from the afterside of midnight, the moon
ticking itself away, to bring us to this window--
fears finally wrung from griefs
and the blood of language awakes. Awakes.
©2016 Frederick Wilbur