The Timid Ones

By Lowell Moorcroft
Tuesday December 23, 2008 - 10:36:00 AM

The Timid Ones 


I know they will not come in. 

My house is too vast, runs up the hillside 

Through giant rooms. They will stay 

By creeks in muslin plaits and braids,  

Or take their teachers’ books 

Forever into the shade, thinking. 

I will lose them as the forests they prefer 

Stop standing, birds for friends are gone. I know 

It is my blatant use of things they so despise,  

My city stances and my spite for 

Inept procedures they know nothing of. 

I wish I could entice these brothers, sisters 

Along. I cannot bow to them so simple but 

I want to be their father and chastise 

How like animals they remain. Yet I 

Keep dogs, own horses, a bristling car 

And feel myself purring at times. Then how 

I could run with them and finally know 

How they see my door as cave to fearful light.  



The Lady of Good Counsel 


We’ll sit down and be to ourselves here. 

The chairs are handmade, I needn’t check 

Broadcloth, cherrywood, labels, tuft. I tell 

You, pull up the chair to cozen literatures 

I bring you. I will keep you as mother would. 

Now tell me the part of the story I can use: 

Begin with parting waters, when you first met 

Her. Don’t say pretty and don’t say dance, but 

Only give me the light, for that was how you saw— 

That was the saint of her face. You 

Knew you could keep her, it was a sign, I 

Mean that light, just as it’s golden here 

Where we sit. It is not regarding you, it is 

Regarding that light. Remember her. She was 

The wood, the land, the streams, the birds, everything, then. 



The Dark Salon 


He sat in a ghost salon. 

My restaurant surrounding him, I 

Placed a white fish down the cook had braised 

For him as he sat looking. 

What was I there for? Could he 

Uncoil himself from thoughts and say 

The thank-you he had in his quiet mouth? 

A kiss, a touch…I waited. But too slowly 

He took form. Since then I sold 

The restaurant and gave out two girls 

To my husband, to myself. We are  

The happiness we can be, we dwell 

On the light air we are given. 

There is grass. A neighbor waves. I 

Wonder now what dark salon he makes 

Of someone else’s restaurant. We owners 

Breed these many tired men to feed 

And place in houses on thin beds 

Where they brood backwards, where 

Pen-strokes slowly darken them. 

My child calls from the park. Perhaps 

In the salon of dream and thought 

Where he dims, he can hear her. I hope 

She says to him the perfect, the kindly thing. 



The Environment 


It kept our hearts mired. In the afternoons 

When the twilight went roaming for cover, 

Hiding under the bus benches or undressing 

In the rear-view mirror, each of us rose 

From the nap of warriors, convinced 

There was a beginning, a morning, and 

A dark sleep waiting for us later, but 

Now we had the ecstasy of midday learning, 

Now we had these other lives secured to ours 

By familiar ropes, entangles, brackets of soft 

Flexible despair and longing, and the powdered bluffs 

Of some kind of however-broken poetry from 

Talented guitars, elite fixations on performance,  

Studded cars, blinding us to thinking 

Life was here, of all places, here on this posed 

Geometry of earth, and all the lines went here, 

All the points and centers and angles of enchantment 

Bent here at the elbow of love. So we drank 

The air, the wine, the gasoline, the ocean’s endless 

Taunt, saying this was a prayer that had no uttering, 

Only the touch of pressured molecules before 

Their drift fell into twilight, and, 

Looking in the mirror, we saw society staunch up 

Its rough skyscrapers and the curved hip of steel 

Bridges, whispering after us the messages from scriptured 

Glades, telling us, the animals have gone, the trees 

Are bending in, the summer is deciding to 

Yield the planet up to dark orbital foreboding, and 

For us the time is here to enter porches of cabin silence to 

Inaugurate the end, the flies and screen doors emptying the 

Bedroom where we in the quiet lay us down, 

And say it was humanity, it was the shortest of lives. 



The Middle Class 


I am afraid for you as tones of religion 

Begin to subscribe to something else. Churches always seemed 

Like eternally parked cars from which I failed 

To see you, ever, emerge in doorways. It is 

You I didn’t want to see into death because you 

Are a representation I helplessly conceive. 

When you disappeared instead into string quartet music, 

With well-dressed preparations followed by an empty stage, 

I was relieved this come-and-go was so much more pronounced 

Than ordinary movements. With your voice confined by the viola, 

I forgot how long it took to be reminded 

You had lived. So featureless had everything become—the trees— 

Who knows how they got there? The ocean—about which 

We could do nothing. I should have left messages in 

All of nature for you. I had no skill, I wasn’t even 

Given love of work to make one. My hands— 

They lift coffee, doorknobs dumbly meet them as 

I wait for simple openings they make into a 

Doorway where you appear—perhaps a church— ready to leave, 

Your viola case in hand. I see the 

Temperature of your face not meant for me, it is descending 

From Brahms, Dvorak. I can smell them— 

They wrote messages for you in tempo markings which 

I would not understand. You didn’t even show me— 

So impatient you were to sing in another land. 



The Wrong Path 


He went down corporate ways. His tongue 

Was frozen but he made copies as though trying 

To stutter speech. The gathered white of 

Tie-bound men, the laugh of a woman who 

Could stand that tired attention, took them all 

Home to minds of faded wives. He wondered: 

Home? How could it be made here? Could 

Binders, clips, wire baskets be 

Nest-pieces taken back to fabricated houses? 

And could he read these people’s scratches anymore 

On papers handed him, their own small words, 

Their poems of correction? He would like to hear 

A woman laugh; no, hear her silence looking up 

From a poem of his, a copy in her eyes, 

The only copy worth imagining.