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 poems are forthcoming in Able Muse, The Chariton Review, Plainsongs, Poetry Quarterly, and Snowy Egret among others.
Horseshoes at Midnight
This man is only partly a rider
and the rider in him is within me.
Henry Taylor, “Horse Show at Midnight”
Trumpets, drums, chimes wake me,
steeplechase dreams can’t run their distance,
and blind in darkness, I feel for the sound,
stumbling to the open window.
It is my neighbor wagering against himself,
against sure defeat. Lanterns at each end
have carved out his backyard pitch. I know this man,
and his grieving as all fathers lose their sons.
He aims, paces, and swings a farewell, cursing
if he holds on too long. He pleads as it is lost
in darkness, relieving like a comet
to his visible world—sharply the metal sings.
I could challenge him, match his loss, but he has painted
stakes ghostly pale. He will spend the back
and forth of nights counting close enough, chance
leaners, the reprieve of rare ringers.
Smuggling a box among garish gear,
we hurry from our mountains to the Outer Banks
on highways congested by everyone else.
For a week of seafood, pastel houses,
and wiggly dunes, we promise to be carefree.
Not so well anchored, we wake early to walk
too close to beauty, curve of pink, hymn of water.
We believe midmorning heat
when it comes— young children in primary
colors haul buckets of magic sand, teenage boys
are goofy around cute bikinis— parents wisely
do not call out their sightings, but read
their own mysteries under indifferent umbrellas.
Grandparents, too, are younger, flexing to pluck
perfect shells, pause to enjoy overlapping
generations, the ballet of shorebirds.
The sun pioneers inland and dinner
gathers us from kite flying and pier fishing.
Evening turns us to board games and picture puzzles,
but we have never left home, slurping Red Havens over the sink
2017 Frederick Wilbur
Editor's Note: If this poem(s) moves you please consider writing to the author (email address above) to tell him or her. You might say what it is about the poem that moves you. Writing to the author is the beginning of community at Verse Virtual. It is very important. -FF