By Katherine Soniat
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Extra resources for A shared life: poems
I would coax them back, wait by the roadsides of the last-seen, those patches of earth that become years, one and two and three and Page 45 The Next Day Today the sun's a simpler silver. The field is cut, the corn laid down. Crows pick the earth plucked to its finest pitch: the day after, when all is suddenly less. Nothing can be forgotten. The sun presses to the heart of a cloud. What does not suggest itself? Bulls breathe steam in the brook, purple blossoms going under at their feet. Their brown bodies shift back and forth, and on the rusted oil drum a bobcat sits, amber sunlight filtering down like shades of river silt.
Once I thought the past an amplitude I could borrow from, then set aside, like a cold store of history's passions. The title states itself simply for the photograph. Otto Schwartzkopf stands to the left with his transport-case of metal, straps and handle of cardboard. Rain like a fallen gray veil drapes Prague while Otto, who seems nine, probably smiles less after the camera shutter closes and his fingers continue their drum on the side of case AAL-351X. Neither Otto nor the old man knows of the holding-town farther to the east, on the border between Moravia and Bohemia, where few care if it's rain or sun glazing the cheekbones.
I feel it and say oranges to the blue field heat. I tell you that one summer, all summer, I rolled that waxy fruit in my palms, pushing a long straw down deep. I squeezed and sucked up the opening globes of juice and at night the salt marsh sounded with breed, breed. Everything repeated. In the enamel basin brimming with rain under the oak, larvae swam those hatching young scribbling into shapes of life. All of us loose in a summer of rainwater. Such poignancy vanished in the corn heat. I cross the doorsill for shade, wind the clock, Page 16 each tick setting aside the moist familiarity of offspring.