David Cazden was a finalist for the Pablo Neruda prize (Nimrod magazine) and has been published in Passages North, Rattle, The Louisville Review, Crab Creek Review, and many other places.
Looking through the living room window
at every squirrel darting
in sun-bent limbs, our dog appears,
as much as a dog can,
to hold his breath,
as if he can’t believe what he’s seeing.
Perhaps he thinks
of early morning bird chatter,
branches rubbing, footsteps
of apples falling. When the consonants
of autumn intrude in his sleep,
he’ll twitch his paws like he’s running,
releasing a muted cry
from his side of the bed.
Now he watches squirrels trace figure-eights
beneath burning locks of goldenrod,
squirrels spinning in circles
through a choir of sunflowers,
and though he’s shown restraint so far,
when I crack the door, he bolts,
bounding up and howling.
For a moment, he’s no longer ours
but belongs to the quilt
of yellow and russet
leaves, draped across the shoulders
of the hills, in Indian summer,
weaving, through thatched light,
toward the creatures of his dreams.
For R.S., 1953-2010
As I drive, each barn, cow,
bridge and silo
makes a wake of sound.
Prairie grass hums,
sheets of summer wheat
Then, settling pools, cisterns,
hay-bales, and spools
of bailing wire all pass:
unwound from wooden shafts,
the wire gleams like a nerve,
knotted into fences, binding
the wheat in sheaves:
and in roadside furrows
they wait, as you must have,
to dust—to flour and husks—
in harvest light.
And on an overpass to Des Moines,
I close the windows and imagine you
buying a tank of helium,
filling your lungs’ balloons
until the string pulled from your hand.
You left without a note,
no words expanding
among peaks and tones
of a landscape,
where each object passing
plucks the air around my car
—as if to exist
is simply to make sound,
to speak, or to be spoken for.