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Preston Mark Stone

Location: Bakersfield, CA
Published in: Agnieszka's Dowry, Sniper Logic, Minerva, Digge's Choice, etc.


Whatever you were waiting for is gone.
The ivy withered to wrought-iron vines,
dropping vermilion leaves along the stone
of the walk, where crabgrass pushed in dull green veins
through the mortar. Your children left and returned
as tall strangers, their taut mouths furred with murmuring;
they found the house shambling with autumn, burned
brown by dust, blooming with rust and crazing
like any relic. When they left again
the house came alive with winter, and you knew
no honeymooning June or August rain
would bring them back. There was nothing to do
but sit and watch the sun in its worn groove
and the moon in its bone-colored creep
and count your lives: the few green fruits of love,
the adders of loneliness, sleep and lack of sleep.

You had to grow old alone to learn this night,
to know at last you've always had nothing
but the telling, the plain speech, the urge to write;
you lie awake, moved at last by nothing,
trying to make a word, a meter, an errant verse
about the house, and the children, and old age
and the hope for new life; you count and parse
the silences in flawed and careful language.
You talk aloud, and aloud you wonder,
What will my millionth incarnation be?
Will there be wings in my shoulders, cinders
1>in my voice? Will I be alone? Is poetry
What I've waited for? Suddenly you find yourself
singing. The ivy tightens, the walls moan,
the snow-striped wind whips and beats the awnings,
and your fingers, bare quills, old knots of bone,
flicker with the fury of beginnings.