Cold Mountain to Red Pines
–-in memoriam, Mike McCarthy
Red was your omnipresent scotch,
your ruddy face of broken blood vessels
the bluffs of California,
where you were born.
Even your claim
that you were related to Joe McCarthy
(you’ll need redder bait than that, old man)
One night when we got so drunk
at that horrible family reunion
we witnessed something or someone
descend the roseate clouds
carrying a walking stick,
his embarrassing junk wrapped in a torn cloth.
Who is it, he thundered, who doesn’t know a wasp’s waist from a crane’s knee!
Us, we laughed and threw our empties at him,
two fools, bowled over by the bigger fool.
Now, only I am left to remember that,
my head on a grey rock;
beside tangled brush, a branch sways
after the cardinal has flown.
Where birch reach the road,
ghosts of the last snow,
while tourist’s clear cut to icon beach,
I’ll take you to my true state,
diesel and superlatives
the way moss silvers, how the woods
are darker than our memory of the woods.
A shocking innovation when we reach the ocean:
the waves are colored robin’s egg blue!
but still unhindered space
between where light falls
and light reflects. Turn here, turn here, I say
like I built this place;
my own fine, salt-soaked houses
along the beach where fires roar into sumac.
I want to roll down the frosted glass at the mother who smiles
as we pass, her beautiful daughter in citrus across the road
shout: my state, my state, my estate
say: no words, no words, but find them anyway.
Merridawn Duckler, a poet and playwright from Portland, Oregon, is the author of INTERSTATE from Dancing Girl Press. She’s an editor at Narrative Magazine and at the philosophy journal, Evental Aesthetics. Hear her read “The Spectrum” at Cleaver Magazine.