the rivers of it, abridged

New York City skyline at night


Fall 2007



Nancy Haiduck

In America

To protect loggerhead turtle eggs laid in America,
scientists erect a net barricade in America.

30 square feet, barely room, stores a kitchen, hammocks, and home.
Migrant families in debt wash up betrayed in America.

Broadway dancers tap snappy tunes, jazzers syncopate the beat.
Lovers fall for a charming serenade in America.

Smoke levitates over seas, a burning hellish horizon.
The sore ground blisters from cluster bombs made in America.

"Water," "Wa..." "Water," ashen multitudes cry in the desert.
Tow-headed children drink cherry Kool-Aid in America.

He saw battle-corpses, heard the drum taps, inhaled faint odors,
and sang of a world in green summer‘s blade in America.

Everyone waves the red, white, and blue, and smiles-yes, everyone!
Here comes the high school band! Trombones parade in America.

Pink-tinged swans skim industrial waters in warm December.
Sonic booms shatter waves. Nancy’s afraid in America.

The Fetal Position We All Know and Love

Shut the door
take off your watch
put it on the bedside table
turn out the light
you don’t have to go anywhere
do anything talk to anyone
for hours
untie your shoes
unbuckle your belt
step out of those jeans
pull off that sweater
the t-shirt with the frayed collar
and the hole in front
where an ash fell
kick off your sagging underwear
the socks you’ve worn
for two days
throw them toward the hamper
in the corner
and flop the pillow
to the cool side
stick your legs under the sheet
the cotton blanket
that needs to be laundered
pull the familiar covering
up to your chin
wedge your fists
to your collarbone
smell your sweat
in the woven threads
lie on your back
for one minute
turn on one arm
curl your knees
to your chest
like paper clips
you can still do that
like you could in the womb
like you could in the hollow
of a redwood.


To Neal

Late afternoon,
any summer,
kneeling in the backyard,
poking the ground to make
a bed for zinnias, orange,
red, and pink, I hear a sound seep
through open kitchen windows, sonorous
under water bubbles, rippling wrinkles
on a laundered sheet, quickening to a ringing
call to God or to a lover, luring even
the bee to stir from the blossom of the hosta.
I peel off garden gloves in the shade of Rose of Sharon,
charmed for so many years, hours, by ascending
and cascading melodies made by my husband‘s
breath that brings to life mpingo, the hard black tree
of Africa. Caught from air, just air, songs
and songs arise. From bone of wood a wind
alive blows through the house from one
end to the other, swirling out
back windows, out front doors
where even the children
have stopped running
and are quiet.


Back to Poetry