We mix, though a true solution eludes us:
at best we blend in suspension, debating
as to which is the solute, which the solvent,
until one of us falls away, unwilling
or able to keep from settling out.
More often than not, we need the same vigor
required to unite oil and water
in their tense and temporary emulsion.
But it’s when we kiss, and I tip this chipped
and hazy flask toward the lip of your own,
that I feel my soul, roiled and turbid, eager
to decant and pour itself into you.
The notes from his Washburn flash and dart
through the haze of the basement cafe,
chords wade from the shell of the half-round stage,
ponderous and imposing. Arpeggios
flash in frantic murmuration, flee the waves
and curls of his beach-sand brown guitar.
Having come for inspiration, as someone
whose years of practice was sufficient
to amuse family and friends, I’m left
filled with an unforeseen emptiness,
the big fish having paddled far enough
from his little pond to understand
how beautiful, vast and distant is the sea.
The Trapped Kite
I was little more than an infant
when the kite first appeared,
trapped in the maple across the street,
caught high in a seine of branches.
From the yard, from the bay window,
it was always there, a spirit that chose
to end its wandering to watch over me,
and ornament those early days.
By six, I had watched it decay
for half my life, and learned
what comes from sacrificing freedom–
its red and gold flesh shredded
from its frame until only
its thin bones lingered,
hidden and mingling
with the cold sticks of winter,
and it was no longer able
to even sense the wind.
And then the late spring day in your ninth year,
in the playground of woods behind your home,
when you realized in a single moment
that the familiar strand of rusted wire
stubbed out from the pierced heart of the wolf pine
in the center of your ancient forest
meant the acreage circumscribed around you
was once all pastureland, and your wilderness
of maples, each scarcely larger around
than the leg of a full-grown man,
were of course little more than twice your age,
hardly able to flower or to bear seed.
The impact of that realization
radiated from you like a shock wave
that mowed down every bole and branch around you
for a mile, its widening circle
revealing to your mind’s eye the groomed fields
and fence rows, the cow paths and long horizons
that predated you by just a few years.
The knowledge that your primordial forest–
its sheltering canopy honey-gold
and emerald, its hidden thrush that called
to you from deepening pools of twilight–
was just a hay field left fallow too long
formed a band around you, as a tree
will mask its delicate pith in a layer of cells,
covering up what’s unseasoned, retreating
from the world one layer at a time.
About the author:
Kevin Casey is the author of Ways to Make a Halo (Aldrich Press, 2018) and American Lotus, winner of the 2017 Kithara Prize (Glass Lyre Press, 2018). And Waking... was published by Bottom Dog Press in 2016. His poems have appeared in Rust+Moth, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Connotation Press, Pretty Owl Poetry, and Ted Kooser’s syndicated column ‘American Life in Poetry.’ For more, visit www.andwaking.com.