My five-year-old brother was Superman
his mighty bath towel tied around his shoulders,
he leaped from the tall sofa toward an old wicker chair
there on the screened in front porch, summertime
in Michigan, no air conditioners then just a big window fan,
drapes shut against the sun, shadows field deep,
blackening a shelf of Childhood Classics.
I remember my brother’s sudden screams, blood dripping
from his forehead after he thumped onto the floor.
I used his cape to stem the seeping, real redness—
called out for my mom to Come Now! Superman crashed
in an instant, but the past would soar by scarred for years.
Meditation: As in the end, so is my beginning
This tall dark wooden desk reminds me of an old church organ. What will I play this morning? Down the hall, I can hear a door unlock electronically—beep, beep, beep, be-beep beep. The office’s earthen color walls are cool adobe, calmly tan against a sunless interior. The roar in the air ducts is like a faraway surf, pulling back on this dusty sea.
The keyboard’s letters like skeletal shells under my fingers clack and stir. Voices stomp up the stairs and steel doors vacuum grip attempted exits. I open my hands, close them together in prayer pose, Namaste to this day.
A faraway photo comes to mind. I am sitting at a desk, typing, and I am young and smiling at the camera while–working on what? Someone walks by now and she is looking for someone else, asks where did that person go? And I’m shrugging and slouching and biting my lips—perhaps a drink of water would help. The water fountain’s down the hallway, where a door opens–beep, beep, beep, be-beep beep. Someone’s phone sings, a voice answers, “Hello, all right, I’m waiting for you.” The steady hush of air pushes small pebbles of daylight through my thinking. My jacket hanging nearby is green, and I realize the sweater I’m wearing is a variation of the same color. My eyes are green, and I have read this eye color makes it more likely that I have DNA from minerals found in meteorites in my blood, the DNA of outer space. I hear a man and woman talking in the hall. I wonder if they have alien blood, too. She asks slowly, “How do you pronounce your last name?” then laughs gently, and a door opens once more—beep, beep, beep, be-beep beep.
When I think of Paris then, I recall cruising the Seine, the sculpted doors of Notre Dame, standing on the steps of Montmartre, artists imploring me for a fee to paint or sketch my likeness, how I replied in some scraps of German to throw off an insistent portraitist beseeching me in English, only to hear his response too rapid in that language for me to understand a word. I looked at the women of Paris, feeling embarrassed at my lack of self-possession, poise, élan.
Walking from the Champs-Elysées to Gare Montparnasse, looking for Hemingway’s lit cafes, I wondered about my father’s time there. Telling my parents later about my holiday, Dad offered hoarsely that he’d left Paris in the back of an army truck after the liberation and supposed it might’ve changed since then. Mom rolled her eyes, said, “You should read the letters he sent back home to me.” So many years later, I regret I didn’t. And nowadays, I suspect there’s a city we see and sense when we are young and longing toward the future that never changes somewhere inside of us.
Yvonne Morris’ poetry has appeared in a variety of print and online journals, most recently The Lake. She is the author of the chapbook Mother was a Sweater Girl (The Heartland Review Press, 2016). For the past 24 years, she has taught communication courses and tutored writing skills at a community college in Kentucky.
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‘I am a footstep on the slippery road’: Five poems by Sameer Tanti
‘And we smelt like guavas’: Five poems by Nilim Kumar
An observer walking on the sidewalks