“Missing in Action” by Gary Lemons

Gary Lemons


It happens so slowly,
A bare vine planted
In spring, a trellis bent
By summer flowers—

Mother details a small cloth with
Intricate stitches on a couch
Beside father, watching television,
Flickering and silent.

Brothers on the floor, tussling or
Playing children’s games.
Slight wind through lilac near the window,
Code of branches tapping glass.

Father goes into the garage
To check on some noise he thinks
Might be plumbing and never comes out.

Mother sets down her needlepoint,
Walks to a closet for more yarn. Never
Returns. Brothers go outside into sunlight,
Birdsongs and disappear at the gate.

I step out the door, push
The sticky screen open—
The neighborhood, the hedges gray
With road dust, the fire hydrant, painted red
Again last week, disappears.

I wait for the return of everything.
Wait in the darkness without breath
Listening to a million hearts, none
Of which are mine, beating.

from Rattle #34, Winter 2010

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