Edge-Effect Requiem for Tom Bigelow

John Kinsella

Pushkin was sparse in his use of metaphor.
Should I talk to you of the dynamics,
the I-You, addressee, addressed?
Build the text by metonym?
Boots, walk, grip, track, map.
I read Thomas Hardy, and he teaches me
to write regardless: connect, disconnect.
It’s there like Sensurround,
the island of scrub within the field,
birds edging water. One long walk
about and beyond the property
that held conflicting histories: knowing
it would have to go, be broken up–
small allotments and rich houses
already restricting its breath.
The notes I wrote for you–to react,
remake, transcribe. Field notes
drawn like wire, or splinters, or vapor
over the pond. In images, your own,
tacked together in company. Transparent
leaves of a late winter tree, a tree
stuck–or persisting–in early fall.
Maybe through all seasons, never
growing, older. Wild turkeys
on the fringe, heat in the edge
effect. You expected them, and they
were there. It’s reassuring, even now.
A kite tangled in undergrowth,
hooked up in the waste of crop.
Untangled, gathered up. We,
the public, and publicly: to celebrate,
witness, recognize, never begrudge.
In this, not simply let it pass, or let it be,
but still and unobtrusively. Confidence.
Denial a trail that is checked by mud,
a fence, a roadway. A brilliant stand of maples.
Was it your brother who could tell us
every variety? To say: we believe,
you make belief in me, like internal rhymes,
caesuras mid-line. Those shorter
unplanned walks–vignettes,
some prosaic. Moments in a cold city.
Don’t let it get to you. Don’t.
A sympathy where irony wore humor away,
exposed a core. Communications interest
us: no person less military,
and yet the memory of comradeship
mattered: recast, recalled when the thin body
of a squirrel was found in the weeds.
Alone, yes, it is good to have company.
We don’t die alone. These are not
reminiscences, nor comforts
in a partial narrative. The death
of those close to you is an absorption
of parallels: how’s your situation
vis-à-vis ours? Have things improved?
What fills the veins of the unseen body?
What do you choose not to take with you?
Absences, promised walks that never
eventuate but verbally mapped,
threaded wherever others walk?
Nodal points of cardinal and blue jay,
like schematics of a ghost train’s route
lighting up in a control room
some way off–removed but close.
The deer came right up to the porch light,
looked past the reflections. We kept
our blinds drawn, though wanted
to open them. Orientate. Compass
of hooves. A refusal to let the passages
close over with snow. And my
first time there–the past
as forgotten in this animation–
here, now!–no darkness in headlights
as a spotted skunk ambles across
the bitumen. You let it pass–
softly, invisibly respecting, invisibly
announcing. Sighting. Sounds gather
in company–to charge the undulating,
throaty hills with crossing, with voice trails
and recordings of deciduous lines
restrung as images, stories of far away
made elsewhere and resonant,
where edges are verdant
and life-supporting.

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