Bio Note: I have spent weeks now writing a daily poem about the pandemic (including some in the Pandemic section of VV) and suddenly left that subject for a while to write about something else. For more poems, visit triciaknoll.com
The Usefulness of an Umbrella
Few care about this pragmatism, this ordinariness that spends summer days on end in the back of closets until a chiller wind whips in squalls and out of nowhere you are on a city street with the only person you can imagine sharing with, an uneven compromise of broad shoulders and slim expectations or steps bumbled in fear of falling and his hand is so much bigger than yours. If this were a seesaw, you’d wonder if it is play, a tug and release, let me take care of you instead of taking care of myself so wholeheartedly that I let go or diminish myself so our ceiling is higher and broader and perhaps darker under the onslaught of showers. What you also know is that umbrellas are precarious; they turn inside out and ribs poke through the vulnerable spaces. Sharp. A latch breaks and the expected upside falls down like a veil and you no longer see everything as you should, muddled in a furled drapery. The friend goes another way, steps into the Uber going uptown and you are most certainly downtown. Too much rain is falling to leave semi-useful behind and yet you do, mindfully declaring the broken as discard, seeking the trash can that will swallow the thing whole until you can find the shop that sells another one – perhaps purple with bright gold stars.
Black-and-White Photo of a Hunchbacked Man on a Bridge
Feeding Three Crows from His Hand
The caption asserted wild, those crows, that the ancient stone bridge spanned a stream near Prague, and that the man had fed these beauties bits of corn and bread for years, and their parents before them. I can’t place where I saw the photo. The image won’t fade. Found when I practiced calling crows to snacks on my mailbox and within weeks two flew down the street from lamppost to tree to follow my car home from the grocery. The next spring they brought their red-throated baby, and perhaps an aunt and uncle. All five. I never was able to feed them by hand. His photo flashes back to me when I write a poem that feels more like twelve feet of gray yarn on the floor than a sequence of words that nudge open a door. I don’t think his back bent from hours he leaned toward the crows as they settled at the stone wall. He was old with patience. His black fedora may or may not have covered a bald spot. Perhaps he mimicked the Raven Masters at the Tower of London who wait hand lifted, cupped for black corvids. That’s the poet’s gesture. To be present over and over, to accept wild trust in a worthy offering.
©2020 Tricia Knoll
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