Foxhole

Down below the skin of things,
someone has prepared the soil,
spread the loam, drawn up hair
and root
for a bed. The mouth
of this subterranean bunker
lays its lips against sky, sipping
thin wisps, down
of feather, down
of cloud. Spooning
in that nest of damp debris:
a him
and a her.
 
She recalls the man who gave her a home
where she could die
in peace. Perhaps it never happened.
It is time to call back
the ghost from its powder
blue chair and beg,
beg
the long-dead grandmother
to shake off her slumber
and divulge the secret.
How to win such a man?
 
She would take a bully, a drunk,
a scoundrel,
a dunce,
as long as he gives her
that powder blue chair
and three square feet
of something like her own
place
to put it.
 
Ghosts take their secrets
seriously, it seems.
Grandmothers take theirs
to the grave.
 
Autumn arrives
out there. The blacksmith turns
the amber strip
around a stem, bashing the glare
with a hammer. Sparks
do not fly. Only breath, only smoke
from the fire.
He makes the unforgiving iron
bend to petal, to tissue.
A rose
plunged into the ice bath
hisses.
 
We become what we never thought we would be.
Finally,
we stop resisting.
Finally,
something gives.
 
Beauty
like birth
hurts.
 
The faraway mouth
of this cave
is nearer than it appears.
That pinprick of light
shivers
even wider while we squeeze
our eyes against it.
One pebble falls
then another.
 
Somewhere out there the future
clangs
like iron, like fire
in its relentless scuffle
with the past.
For the moment, we pretend
we cannot feel sand
skittering down our shoulders.
We feign sleep
for now,
for as long as our restless arms
allow.
 

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