local_library No, Brother, I Did Not See

by Thomas Bates

Published in Issue No. 54 ~ November, 2001

When we were small and lived in that blue house
with the hyacinths wrapped around it, kissing me
you said, When we are old, we will be afraid to die.
Then the cowbird, who lately had come to rest on our roof
hot afternoons like some Southwestern gargoyle,
set himself to cawing. I don’t know what it was,
but you twisted your body up on to the awning,
cocked your fist, and let a smooth stone fly.
When the thing fell, you told me it grew and grew
until it was nothing left but hell the whole sky, look
you can’t see anything, and somehow I knew you were right,
though I heard the hollow bones crack into themselves,
the empty black oyster crash among the garden;
that awful dead smell pouring from the cloister
sweet as frankincense, heavy as a new day
that falls into dusk too soon. We are sleeping
on the porch swing together with the smell of hyacinths,
a thousand birds springing from that one blood that saves us
every night. Here, I will look the other way for you.

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Thomas Bates is an independent researcher and writer residing in Northern Colorado. His interests include nontraditional approaches to education, common sense as a depletable natural resource, and cooking.