portion of George Moore artwork

Anniversaries in April
George Moore

for Sherri Smith and Donna Dewhurst Nordstrom, April 26, 1986

The blackbirds are confused. Outside
the window is the Great Salt Lake
and it is snowing. When Sherry dies

I walk outside and stare hard
at the night sky, pulling every ounce of grief
from the vacuum that surrounds us.

On a cul-de-sac of pastel homes
with their desperate monotone roofs,
the streets are all numbered outward

from the salt flats it seems. When she
went into the Snake and disappeared
your cells went wild

in a mad sympathetic confusion
for it was the not knowing you said.
Hells Canyon suddenly became its name.

The blackbirds are the only things moving
in the whiteness, a small aspen sapling
waits for the wind to free it from the storm.

Early, while others sleep, I fall into the clock
which stabs its seconds into
the unnatural silence of the room.

There is something terribly wrong
in blackbirds that cannot save themselves
from the spring,

and that hot liquid moving through
your veins, up the chronology of your spine.
I keep cutting words out of the burning air.

Your son turns five and the birds
fly terrified like dots going back and forth
against the great white landscape.

When the world splits us up
and we are looking out of a million
kitchen windows, if she reaches this far

she will have fallen from the night sky
into your yard, and all of us
in our anniversaries

will tell the story in black and white,
and join again the fat flakes
smothering the birds with spring.

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