M. J. Smith


This is where you danced
next to some pitiful droplet
of a rushing creek, the pine
branches firing off cracking
sounds when they snap and fall.
This is where you walked,
so many times before,
atop the needles and burnt brush
and dead squirrels, like the kind
you hunted with pellet guns as a kid,
always missing. And you stand here,
not learning, as you once did,
about how to build a trail through
briars and thicket, but only trying
to make sense of the pines, the breezes
tossing the needles in your face.
And past the branches open sky,
cloudless, without end.


The dishes will stay dirty
at least for one more night
because there is a poem
that needs to be written.
It is about you, about
your black hair flopping
all over the pillow near me,
your small belly showing
because your shirt is pulled
up slightly, inviting me
to touch, inviting me to kiss,
inviting me.

If this sounds dirty
then so be it, but it stands
for so much that is clean,
for so much wild, crisp
thought that hurdled forward
when you stopped threatening
to leave town, return home
and abandon the humid air
of this strange place
that now holds far more
of the unnameable,
far more of the mysterious,
than it was ever supposed to.

Yes, the dishes won't be done.
They won't be done for some time.

©2005 M.J. Smith

M. J. Smith, a long-time reporter, has worked as the AP correspondent in Trinidad, at The Providence Journal in Rhode Island, the AP in Little Rock and The Times-Picayune in New Orleans. He is now in Paris, studying at the Sorbonne, writing and trying to find manual labor so he can afford to buy cheap wine.