Tuesday Afternoon at Magpie’s Grill
Flickering afternoon light slatted and parsed.
At 3PM, the booths empty except for me
and my notebook.
Would I notice if not for my companion,
my need to recognize and remember?
Without a record, will I hear the ice crashing
into the sink, the Dodger talk at the bar
at the end of the room under the Miller Lite
neon confident and beckoning?
My mother used to say about me,
In one ear and out the other, as if the words
flowed through me without stopping,
without truly entering me, leaving little
effect, as if I had no memory
of all the little parental transgressions.
Why am I not under the sycamore I spot
through the blinds in this Tuesday sunshine
listening to the very song with the shady tree?
What have I done with my life? When
I should have written a poem, I didn’t.
When I did, I didn’t get it quite right.
How can a poem do so many things:
wishing for the shade and thirsty for a beer,
feeling an urge to move my pen and noting
the tiny feet and brush of cuticle,
the solitary fly on my bare arm, while
imagining the chattering of the birds that swoop
from sycamore to jacaranda as if the parking lot
and dumpsters and broken bottles don’t exist.
No matter what I notice,
no matter what I record, I will never
capture the ease of wind-filled wings,
tail feathers a translucent backlit fan,
as my hollow bones jettison the detritus
to fly upward against the source.
Luanne Castle’s Kin Types (Finishing Line Press), a chapbook of poetry and flash nonfiction, was a finalist for the 2018 Eric Hoffer Award. Her first poetry collection, Doll God, winner of the 2015 New Mexico-Arizona Book Award, was published by Aldrich Press. She studied at the University of California, Riverside (PhD); Western Michigan University (MFA); and Stanford University. Her writing has appeared in Copper Nickel, Verse Daily, Lunch Ticket, Grist, River Teeth, and other journals.