“Constellations” by Pat Durmon

Pat Durmon


Two obvious facts: he had hit his target squarely
and he wore the trace of a frown on his face.
I turned to make certain
of the rarely changing constellation
for which his targets had some fame.
It had been a direct hit, slightly off-center.

Afterwards, I drew back to the laundry room,
knowing my husband would plod back to his shop
to break the rifle down to its smallest component.
He would probe and stroke every tiny part,
looking for some piece of grit or tiny burr
throwing it off. Probably he would finger the stock
up and down, up and down. Then there’d be a deep
breath—a rifle needs to be tight and shoot true
or it’s sure death, he’d said.

He does no less if all goes sour
between him and me. That, he cannot abide:
he’ll calculate close and push me to talk and talk
to clean out all my grime and grit.
This, no different. The man is set on catching it
before it goes too far askew. Dark will be walking
our way soon. On this moonless night

we will sit silent side-by-side, bundled in a blanket
for an hour under the power of a clear wintry sky.
We will look at perfect constellations
being birthed—a common miracle around here.

from Rattle #25, Summer 2006


Pat Durmon: “I write poetry for the same reason old men whittle and talk to themselves, children love roller coasters and the hunter sits in a tree-stand for hours at a time: to find out what happens next. I talk to everything and want to see under the bark, I want the thrill of the ride—not knowing if it’ll make me sick or make me laugh, and I want to sit long enough to reclaim and heal one more broken piece inside by following that red or black thread in the crazy quilt. If my words somehow touch another person, the spirit-muse rose up out of my well, and a miracle happened. I do love the miracles in our common daily lives.”

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