Friday, August 15, 1997

VALLEY FEVER

VALLEY FEVER

It's the way the ivory keys line up 
at the ready, like so many tombstones.
Lives were lost dragstripping along backroads 
where dangerous curves and soft shoulders 
collided at the speed of thought.

It's the way the tree held me, 
as we crawled out of the wreckage, 
all missiles, silos and combines.

Fingernails in columns in varying shades 
of red and gold, and the silk tassel 
of pomp and circumstance.
We were among those who 
almost didn't make it back, like James Dean.

I remember my mother's voice, 
disembodied, and she told me how 
Brenda Fullick's mother crawled out 
of the burning car, her face rippled like water.

My aunt can't abide the dirge, Danny Boy 
because of a boy she once loved.
She would never tell me his name.

My uncle loaned Danny his car 
with a jerryrigged battery 
and a milk carton for a seat.
When the headlights went out
they didn't see the parked truck.

Before the accident, I dreamed 
of images of wheels spinning in dry earth, 
I dreamed of the fragile beauty of flowers
harvesting the dead.

I saw seven keys for the days of the week 
opening the memory of destruction. 
I think of cars and locks that once held keys—
they are no longer whole, or complete.

They are separated from their source. 
Time reels me in, in increments of weeks.
I still dream of those wheels spinning 
out of control as they bit into the soft shoulder 
and screamed at dangerous curves. 

Eucalyptus trees that loomed in the sky. 
The odor of fresh grated earth. 
At least this time it wasn't a grave. 
A John Deere tractor awaits a writer 
to plow and scribe the fields beyond.

8/15/1997
SRJC Workshop with Terry Ehret
10/15/2015

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