Poetry | Kevin Casey
As Things Progress
At first, we had hoped to remain motionless,
at that point where all paths still seemed open.
But soon we discovered we’d need to move along,
and that this was a journey of set stations:
We’ll keep him comfortable as things progress.
Once we’d boarded, boxcars were filled with tubes
and ventilators, purple gloves and fabric masks.
Memories were piled onto flatcars, and all
he had meant to those gathered with him
on this trip was loaded onto gondolas
and rusting boxcars overlaid with cryptic graffiti
from some strange city. The whole procession
rattled down its narrow track, now lurching,
halting upward, now careening downhill
as if no one had control.
But the conductor,
with her stethoscope and clipboard,
knew the route well. And as we pulled
into the terminal, the brakes releasing
in a final sigh, the weary travelers
were asked to claim what baggage they could,
and to mind their footing as they disembarked,
as the train was on a tight schedule,
and there were other passengers to collect.
Left to My Own Devices
I found a nest of tangled fishing line
hanging from some alders; a tarnished hook
with its desiccated scrap of worm flesh
and three split shot made a monofilament
rosary of someone’s frustrated refuse.
In ten minutes of fingers still fumbling
in the cold dawn of childhood, the nest
was teased and stretched into a cat’s cradle,
and two square knots at the end of a stick
finished off the makeshift fishing pole.
The rough crozier whipped toward the pond,
I was shocked at the sudden life pulsing
perturbed at the end of my contraption,
and walked backward to drag the broad disk
of a pumpkinseed through the algae
to the shore’s mud, its cartoon blues and yellows
reflecting the boundless sky of a child—
just a trash fish caught with trash, but everything
must be holy in this world, or nothing is.
Kevin Casey is the author of And Waking… (Bottom Dog Press, 2016), and American Lotus, winner of the Kithara Prize (forthcoming, Glass Lyre Press). His poems have appeared recently or are forthcoming in Rust+Moth, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Pretty Owl Poetry, and Ted Kooser’s syndicated column ‘American Life in Poetry.’ For more, visit andwaking.com.
Image Credit: “Train Grafitti” by Flickr User dominik18s. Licensed via a Creative Commons 2.0 License.