Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Woodbury Novel

Woodbury Novel

The woods     on either July side      of Painter Hill Road
are ripe-green,     hunter green,     lime-memory green.
It is     Connecticut:     summer-drunk houses,     Yale
men,     tolerated celebrities,     new mud-murky ponds.

The boy     is ushered     into a rectangular room.
Wicker furniture.     An elephant's foot stool
that will sell     at Christies     for thousands
when the next     century     cuts into life's dance.

Tonight     the boy,     nine,     has a babysitter.
She is     sixteen...     in khaki shorts,     blue polo shirt.
Her mother     serves     coconut cookies...     milk.
It is     the hour     the sun     slow-falls on copperheads.

The babysitter     opens     the elephant's foot stool:
week old     copies :     The Wall Street Journal.
The boy     stares     at the newspapers     until
the girl     laughs,     slams     the foot's lid     down.

The boy's     mother     and stepfather
are taking     Arthur and Marilyn     to dinner
to make up     for blurted     curses    when the boy
was caught     ruining     poolside     oak furniture.

Your parents,     the babysitter applies     lipstick,
are not     really     your     real     parents.
Her lips     are Sunday school     colonial-crimson.
Marilyn and Arthur     are so...     forgiving.

The babysitter's     mother     looks in,     smiles.
The babysitter's     name     is Hope     or Faith...
or Eleanor.     The father     fishes     in Canada
or Africa.     He sells Cadillacs     or stocks.

Babysitter Hope     wants     to swim     in the pond.
Have you     ever     gone     swimming     so alone
you can see     yourself     from a far off      star?
The boy     realizes     he is mouth-open    chewing.

Babysitter Faith's     eyes     are green     bones.
You aren't     scared     of water     are you?
She has     the only     flashlight...     faint amber
on the water,     You're not     from important blood.

The boy     thinks     her voice    raindrops
on crystal.     He pulls     jockey shorts     higher,
inches into     the pond,     onto pebbles,     fist-rocks.
The darkness     thickens     on his     lemony fear.

The boy     imagines he     will walk     his springer-mutt
up the abandoned     fern-besotted     road     the next day.
Babysitter Eleanor-Faith-Hope     two-hands     his head
underwater.     How dare you     misbehave     at Marilyn's?

He shivers     stretched on wicker     under blankets.
The babysitter     is beside him,     her arms     tight
around his skinny     chest.     The trees outside     are black.
The elephant foot     has four     neatly trimmed toenails.

When the boy     is collected,     his mother     gushes
as if     someone's     bleeding     has been     arrested.
His stepfather     smells     like a schoolboy's      ill-used
chemistry set,     A month's savings     in concrete shoes!

Patches     of memory     come thicket-torn     to the boy:
the stepfather's     Hudson Hornet,     Hope's pearly     skin,
his mother's     East 73rd Street     post-divorce     apartment.
One shack-trapped     August,     the boy     will be sixty...

in a flash-blast     thunderstorm,     watching headlights
on a desert     road,     listening     for something     certain,
like the clatter-bang     of a bad-shocks     GMC pick-up
bouncing over     a cattle guard     far from Connecticut.

Ethereal wedding aisle,     foreign stamps     to hobby-glue
on a wastebasket,     Junior League     money-stubble charity
work in Bethlehem     or New Haven:     Hope will be     memory,
false or elaborate...     her arms     around     his drowning.      


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