thickly settled: a poem begun in august
golden rod and the sun singed cones of
the last of late summer’s honeysuckle simmer in the fields;
and my inbox, says nate, is like a game of fucking minesweeper.
my chest grows heavy and reads like a road sign for a small, slow sped
new england village: THICKLY SETTLED.
and i regret not grabbing shoes out from under the desk,
as i head for the pebbly pumice of hickory ridge road,
we muddy our own waters.
i read, then i realize:
“they were full- blown, abandoned to this.”
in lieu of admitting i was sad, i described to you a somber scene:
told you i had walked to the old church yard on west main street
and sat underneath the double headstone i like so well.
“READER,” it reads you from the new-found american folk art etch of a slate slab,
“if you knew them,”—two boys drown in the west river,
the one trying to save the other,–“you will weep with their friends.”
in these days i think constantly of getting a tattoo of that line from that novel
great house by nicole krauss who is married to what’s-his-three-names.
it would read in lanky hipster script:
“it would be wrong to say that the conditions of such a life had been a hardship.”
and the scene is mostly somber, which is to say sad, because:
as the stream of autumn air bleeds in the nighttime
between the ineffectual grate of heavy-lidded venetian blinds,
somebody should fish us out from
the river’s tow.
long distance valedictions
we say goodnight symmetrically.
goodnight, your name.
goodnight, my name.
if i use your surname,
you use mine.
if you deploy my title,
if i am yelling,
you match my capital letters.
and when you whisper, mhmm,
swaddled in bedclothes and sleepy,
such a long way away, i script my
mumbled volley in lowercase too.
it’s paltry and precious
and all that we can give.
Brenna M. Casey is a Lecturer at Duke University where she teaches courses in Creative Writing, Literature, and Gender Studies. She received her M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Notre Dame and a Ph.D. in English from Duke University. Her work has appeared in Ploughshares, Bitch Magazine, and Post Road, among others.