the rivers of it, abridged

New York City skyline at night




Alex Mouw

In Case Poems Don’t Make a Difference

The Jesuits believe every day is a living
prayer, that God slips into the recesses
of morning, dew on the windshield, an argument

or last night's thunderstorm that rattled a painting
off my wall. The small brushstrokes of a thrush in the corner
throw streaks of white into the canvas bath of deep orange

that trickles at the edges into black. Wedged
between the couch and the wall, the frame's
glass was still intact. I was too tired to re-hang it,

but spent breakfast staring from the kitchen.
I waded through the day and started to think
that your father must die someday, and then who

will watch baseball on the floor with his dog,
rally cap on in the living room? Of course
that shouldn't be for a long time. Or

there's my father, who's in the business
of saying you'll be fine, who often, in spite
of a slammed door, the desk light on

long into the night, is right. There's
the way your legs slowly curl
towards your belly as you sleep.

There's morning coffee, dishes, then life
unto whenever we send our bodies off
in little boats, raise a toast

to whatever murky blue awaits us.
Tonight I came home and
drove fresh finishing nails

into the cheap, whitewashed wall, used my
father's level to steady the painting,
little prayer hanging behind glass.


Anniversary and a Half

I remember we went running in the woods
and, as I got farther ahead,
deeper into the tall stalks
of spring wood, you were
bothered that I left you behind.
I was indignant that you
didn't know I'd come back.

Last night I fixed the typewriter
you gave me. The metal spindles
that hold spools of ink in place
are old, and I had to force
most of my weight onto them
before, without any warning
or slow give, they clicked
into place.



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