The Works of Linwood Rummney
All Poems © Linwood Rummney
From branches of the Wolf River Tree
my older brother calls my name,
but not any name the living
know me by.
As a child I wandered this shore
searching for shells and strange stones.
I gathered fragments of cables
tossed up by the harbor
and tapped a path on the pavement
to telegraph my ellipsis home.
As a child my brother
was too weak to climb trees.
Swinging sticks at brambles
with their various shadows
and leveling water pistols
at the sun with its glistening thorns,
he seemed uniquely capable
It must be something beside
my brother, less than his voice,
making that racket.
If it is an ugly bird’s shadow laughing
at a bare branch, it must know
how moon calls to tide.
f it is the claw
the bird carried from the sand,
it must know it was surrendered
long ago to enable escape.
If it is, after all, an artifact
of my brother’s voice, it must sense
how, with each fragrant breath,
these apples summon the ground.
The Ice Storm
It must be tenderness that sometimes compels
water to press itself so firmly against
the landscape, like the too cold hand set upon
a lover’s belly to startle and amuse.
Trees break from the weight of this embrace.
As in spring, through a trick of light, low-hanging
branches seem to fracture as they dip below
the river’s surface. But there’s no error
of appearance here. This season has gone literal.
Something lost all patience with shadows and casts
them out with a clarity that stuns
for its accumulated barrenness.
Mornings, children skate in driveways, parents
gather ice to flush toilets
while the radio catalogs, as though
in war, the losses of the day before:
one trailer has collapsed, killing the sole
inhabitant; another bridge declared
impassable; and half the state
cut off from the power grid. Residents
are advised to boil water, to
ventilate if they use generators,
to stay away from windows and off roads.
Later, there will be interviews with the woman
who gave birth in a car flipped over in a ditch,
the octogenarian who burned
furniture for heat in his living room,
and the fortunate couple who, visiting
friends when the storm began, were not at home
when an ice swell dragged the whole thing into the river.