Bet I was sick that day, and watched
from my bedroom window what trouble
my friends were up to across the alley.
They’d gathered at the rock wall
and made one shadow over the rat
that inched along in its charcoal coat.
They’d stone it for having ventured
out through a crack—easy
to crouch where they stood to collect
small chunks of the crumbled cement
left by the city’s neglect. We loved
to barrel our bikes over that stretch,
bounced by the broken-up pavement
to the verges of wrecks we sometimes
that proof of life, each time moved us
to kneel round the fallen one, sudden
tenderness in our huddle. I saw them
pummel the rat—it never did
bleed, but ceased pawing ahead.
They were all still when they knew
it was dead. I could tell from where
I’d pressed my face to the glass. Or else
I was down there, part of that shadow.
The bees made their way in again. I saw
the restrained cringes and winces we each
couldn’t help, as they hummed poking
the air like aimless silhouette bullets
between us and the bright windows. It looked
like that year they crawled through the gap
where the hearth stones didn’t quite meet cedar
siding or plaster. The kids were young then
and I hated to see them scared. This time
it meant something different. I can’t say what,
but I didn’t call the man
who knew what to do. Summer would end,
and the bees would be swept away too.
Good now, this bed and you in it,
no hurt in my hip, just the trick
elbow I can’t prop myself with,
and I get to hold you and I get
excited like a kid, with fewer nights
left than lived. I can’t keep it
under my breath—you’ll detect
the grunt-whisper. It presses up
out of my chest, At last. I am
embarrassed to expose this interior
nakedness, more than to let you
explore all my faulted skin. At last
we’ve fallen here, out of our pasts,
each had our manic egg-and-seed
dance, our thrash through the marital
bramble, our bitter oak table
settlements, unwitnessed internal
bleeds. Here, the elegant firework
purple allium burst on its long stem
set in a glass flute for you
on the nightstand—faded a little
these few days since it’s severed.
The season’s advanced. I can’t
imagine this blossom replaced.
JED MYERS lives in Seattle. He is author of Watching the Perseids (Sacramento Poetry Center Book Award) and two chapbooks. Honors include Southern Indiana Review’s Editors’ Award, the Literal Latte Poetry Award, and the McLellan Poetry Prize (UK). His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Rattle, Prairie Schooner, Poetry Northwest, The Greensboro Review, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Nimrod, Crab Orchard Review, Canary, and elsewhere. He is Poetry Editor for the journal Bracken.