by Claire Cowan-Barbetti
We were yelling at each other.
My voice shrill, a siren,
yours low and steady beat buffering
the shriek. The children's feet cannons
on the floor above. The TV had been on all week
and the city swelled silently today
from the bruising of six days,
its enervated walls containing, reverberating
the dull fires, words of smoke, and our nuclear frustration.
To escape the city, we gathered our children,
ourselves into the car and drove
to mountains and river,
hiked until you dropped on a flat
rock to nap and recover
while our children teased crawfish
in the stream. Knees to chest, I sat by you
and smoothed your skin light with a single leaf.
Overlooking the river, at rest.
I don't know how long we were there;
perhaps the time it takes for airwaves
to materialize to multitudes the report:
Time has stopped. Maybe longer. On the quiet river
yellow leaves floated, hardly moving.
Downstream: the cascade, the deluge, the falls.
Here, they stalled, glittering in green water,
and drowsed by the warmth and sleep and power
all I could see was a constellation of yellow lights
as seen from the heights of a mountain at the outskirts,
beckoning lights of the beautiful city.
©2001 by Claire Cowan-Barbetti
Claire Cowan-Barbetti is a mother of three and coeditor of the interdisciplinary journal Janus Head. She lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.