I have lived in Phoenix since 1978 when I moved from Vienna, Austria. Born in Austria, I grew up in Manchester, close to rain and the northern English industrial zone. In my early 20s I went to live in Vienna and from there enjoyed many trips around Europe, often as an artist working in watercolor. My poems have appeared in Slipstream, Skidrow Penthouse, and Poem, among others, and my Selected Poems appeared in 2014 from FutureCycle Press.
Once we had two silver teaspoons
but they proved too small to control
so now there’s only one, while the set of forks
that started as six became four
and we’re mystified as if
two of them melted in dishwater. At the end
of every wash a single blue sock
lies crying out for its mate and now
the tax forms have gone into hiding
among papers we always meant to throw away
but allowed to pile up on the desk,
beside the stove, and on the table. We prefer
not to think about the ring with a precious stone
that rolled through a crack in the floorboards
to a place we daren’t go to look.
The catalogue of losses grows
as we blunder along, breaking this and mislaying
that. We lost the charger to a cell phone.
We lost the cozy lodge we used to stay at
when a sports bar took its place,
we lost the old houses on the corner of our street
to an office block, we lost
a mid-sized city to the huge one that replaced it.
We lost listening to the radio
for a friendly voice, we lost whole portions of the desert,
and we lost the gravel roads that led
to secret places when they were paved.
We lose some lions every year. We lose forests.
We lose the freedom to reclaim them. It’s happening
all the time; a tree falls, a condor dies from eating
a poison carcass. We know where things belong;
the letters in a drawer, the cinnamon in a cupboard,
the pine trees on the mountain, but they’re gone
like the glacier that shone for thousands of years, gone
like the shirt that opened out its sleeves
and flew miraculously away.
"Lost" first appeared in Presa.
The first time you look
out of the cabin window you see
a wide green shadow
arched across the stream. The next time
it seems more earth than leaves
and drier than you thought.
You go back a third time
having come to love the sounds
that rise at night
from the undergrowth
and the long notes of the owls
waiting in the dark.
It becomes a highlight
of the year to open the door
and watch the birds loop
after flies. Everything is
familiar now, from the smooth rock
on the right bank
to the tree roots holding
to the left, and the mesh
of fine branches as the oaks recede
behind the sycamores.
One time in spring
light breaks from the ground
and in winter
there’s a pale glow
to the chill. Now it’s summer once
again, the redstarts
come and go, and the evergreens
open up their secrets
to you, whom they have eventually
learned to trust.
"Repeat Exposure" can be found in my book, The Devil's Sonata.
©2016 David Chorlton