If recollecting were forgetting…
I both would and wouldn’t recall looking out the south window,
March, midday while talking on the phone and seeing
two deer and then two more, loping in from the south field,
each, in turn, leaping over the gravel drive
where it curves as if it were a rocky riverbed flowing around
the unfenced field, posts and barbed wire pulled out
years ago. If recollecting were forgetting, the gambrel barn
might forget its hundred-fifty years of history, weather
and seismic shifts, and stand up tall again, no gaps for bats
or swallows to fly in, or perhaps the barn wouldn’t be there
at all, the settlers not yet arrived, the land still roamed by bison
and people of the Miami tribe, passenger pigeons coursing
in great flocks that darken the sun. If recollecting were forgetting,
like four deer, I, too, might be able to leap
over the histories of things and go on loping, beautifully,
and with ease into the east field.
The owls are close tonight
and the barn cat’s not yet
come in. You step outside
and stare into the darkness
willing your eyes to see him,
dark shape near the barn
so you can go walk with him
up the hill to the house.
Owl talk. Owl hunger.
Sometimes, you just need
someone to walk with you,
tell you you’re worth
walking out into the dark for,
tell you what you’ve done right,
for once, leaving out
your less admirable traits,
and those times when you
Sometimes, you just need
to walk into the dining room
and flick on the little lamp
on the oak sideboard,
and have its light comfort you,
the lamp’s base made
of a tapered blue Ball jar
that was your grandmother’s
and most likely traveled with her,
covered wagon to Dust Bowl
and back home again to Indiana.
Jar she filled with tomatoes
or green beans, year
after year, and which now,
holds only decoratively,
a handful of buttons
from her button tin, and wears
its demure shade like a hat.
Instead of her disapproval
you need to see the small bubbles
in the pale, old glass,
not as flaws, but as indications
of vintage, of uniqueness
and usefulness over time.
Who doesn’t want to be seen
that way? Sometimes, you just need
to walk into the dining room,
turn on that little lamp
and have it fill you with light.
Daye Phillippo has lived her life backwards, first raising her family and later earning degrees in creative writing from Purdue University (2011) and Warren Wilson MFA for Writers (2014). She is the recipient of a Mortarboard Fellowship, an Elizabeth George Grant for work in progress, and a Tennessee Williams Scholarship for poetry. Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and has appeared or is forthcoming in Poetry, Valparaiso Poetry Review, The Midwest Quarterly, Literary Mama, Shenandoah, Cider Press Review, Twelve Mile Review, One Art, Natural Bridge, Presence, The Windhover and many others. She taught English at Purdue University and lives and writes in a creaky, old farmhouse in rural Indiana where she tends a garden, two cats, and a lively flock of Barred Plymouth Rock hens. Thunderhead, her debut collection of poems, was published by Slant in 2020. Read more of her work on her website: www.dayephillippo.com.