May 1999

David Shevin

David Shevin David Shevin is the author of several books including Needles and Needs, (1994 Bottom Dog Press) and has published work in numerous magazines over the years. In 1994, he won a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship.
White Iris     Click to hear this poem in RealAudio

Can I tell you what I was dreaming
after you had to leave? I rested
in sighing breath memory, in leaves
and the silence of mountains, nested
away from cold, safe in the country
of questions about what life is, and what
will keep on izzing in this journey.
When I reached, I was touching you
skin on skin, dancing in heartbeat
rhythms. How they stir foam on water
twin languages of longing and dream,
the fusings of going and been.
I watched you smile. Did you know
I was watching? You had an arm
laden with white iris and pine sprig.
How rich and damp and green rolling
the Pennsylvania wetland! And we walked
with sidelong looks. We were still
learning the other one’s thought.
Here where Christina once made hope
for a lasting family by the hotel
pool, where too soon she needed
to balance with a cane while cancer
in the head threw her balance to ghosts
and cruelties -- this too was a place
of kisses, new mornings, understandings.
Those were seas of faith locked in your gaze
and calmed my own unsteady wrestlings.
How far you had come for me. I needed
a flower for the graveside visit, did
not have to ask but was offered, and now
I wish I could recall the exact words
that Christina had to say, for she was
chatty and dead, funny and social, aburst
with blessings. I was holding that single
stem, single blossom at peace with a life
where in trying, we can match cruel
with sweet, hurt with hope, burn
with the grasp of your hand into mine
or the glow of shared pleasure.
This happened before the paperboy’s hour.
It was dark out. I was holding the flower.



Noon Whistle    Click to hear this poem in RealAudio

The rumble rose slowly, across a big lung
to a call, then a cry, then a squeal,
as city siren proclaimed the midday.
We postured our energy for the new meridian.

Eagerness was the hardest product to manufacture
in that industry. In a few hours, a swift
took flight at dusk. Winter season, silver
moon, and a rumble rose slowly in winnow

and throatpipe on the Doberman two houses
North. In timing and pitch, it was clear
that he called in response to that whistle
at noon, just ten hours before. "Slow,

slow reflexes," I thought. He was waking
to new snow, surprised in the dance
and the flight of brown bunnies by moon
wherever he turned. "Bunny at corner

of alley and brick pile!" called Setter
from over the block. And Doberman thought
little of it, too far. He rolled
in a cold yard, and growled for a while

about Schopenhauer, then called back again
to the siren from noon. No response.
Meanwhile, two other rabbits debated
the upshot of crocus come up under pine

and Doberman barked his opinion on gardening
until these scatted as well. Cold and Wind
were debating the team from New Blossom
that wins the debate every school year

at this time. And Doberman talked to his Soul
and to Setter, to gods of striations in shivers
of air current, he hooted his praise
for lavender caught in an abrupt breeze

surprising himself with so much monologue
that he was still wide awake to engage
next noon's whistle. Hump day. We looked
for the coming of second shift, stretched

for a break. The workday's numbness felt deep,
and we wished the dogs had not wrecked our sleep.

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David Shevin: Poetry
Copyright 1999 The Cortland Review Issue SevenThe Cortland Review