At the end of the black sideboard
in the corner of the dining room,
you thrive out of a purple pot
needing only quiet circulations of air,
a cube of water once a week,
and you purl and plash your leaves
like softly springing water,
mount luscious leaf-clusters
in healthy petals of avocado fire.
Somehow you outlast every orchid,
sustain each sprout, conquering
a gravity that brings us humans
to the fat, punctual tissue covering
our kneecaps. What are you also
but ceaseless prayer? Undeniably
small, clean as righteousness,
neater than cartridges of bullets,
more keen than careful articulation
is your swarm of attention
as it obeys the sacred sound
of each liquid day, of each moment
and its Cimmerian mule.
The eye of the peregrine falcon
than the quickest living motion.
I hear her shrieking
like a rung doorbell in a house on fire.
The oak is full of her black eyes
seeing spirit before matter:
electric pulse of mouse in field,
vector of sparrow mid-flight,
caw of crow belly-deep.
Her talon-points gather in heaps
overkill of killer,
angers steaming from lovers,
petals ticking off poplars,
photons of morning prayer.
By the river, I saw her once
sieving light spokes,
needling invisible stars.
The grass made my feet wet.
I did not see where daddy went.
I could hear water, not bird.
Then, I heard her between knowing
and not. I took it to heart.
She ripped beads from my head.
On D Day, Salinger took 6 chapters of Catcher
on to the beach at Normandy
and through the Death Camps on V-E Day.
Ten years later, the manuscript,
deeply formed, found its way to press.
This was one book I too kept, though I didn’t care
for Holden Caulfield
as a sophomore at Catholic High for Boys.
Now, I hear no confused boy,
but a soldier sick with knowing--
a child of Hemingway grown more gracious,
one willing to scratch out
the writing on the wall, to prevent innocence
from spoiling. I too wish
to save a younger sister when it’s raining
and starting to rain,
to keep brothers from the circus of phonies.
Of the stories and characters, Old Yearner,
you were right:
The more you tell, the more you want back.
About the author:
Jesse Breite’s recent poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Tar River Poetry, Chiron Review, and Prairie Schooner. He has been featured in Town Creek Poetry and The Southern Poetry Anthology, Volume V: Georgia. FutureCycle Press published his first chapbook, The Knife Collector, in November 2013. Jesse lives with his wife, Emily, in Atlanta, Georgia, but he was raised in Little Rock, Arkansas, and considers it his home.