franz wright

Elderly Couple

Those last two weeks of August before we too are married, before we

recognize another soul in town, we meet them walking here at evening,

nod, and smile hello. Until we don't awhile, then never again. Small rabbits

tensely watch us pass from the long uncut grass between headstones

where they believe they are safe. They have gone to school with stones to

learn patience and motionlessness. Rapidly graying, dissolving into one

substance with the dusk, they are so still they tremble. They are troubled

by a fear whose source they have no way of comprehending, combined

with the equally incomprehensible delight of children playing hide-and-

seek as it gets dark, sooner, enormously, with every passing day, and they

become aware in waves of being older than a person they were only

yesterday. While the trees sway soundlessly high overhead, the breeze

and first visible stars seem, if anything, younger. Mothers stand in yellow

kitchen windows pretending to listen to fathers quietly, inconsequentially

droning on behind them in the deepening evening, even when they are

the voices of men no longer alive. They say things like "Any day above

ground is a good day..." And what would they have known about that?

The mothers stand completely still, they will never turn around. Standing

with his back to a tree, barely breathing, a boy wonders if he is going to

be the one abruptly struck down from above, swiftly carried aloft over the

first soft lights of town by huge wings, never to be seen again, and decides

that he probably won't, and for a minute is perfectly happy.

Mt. Feake Cemetery, 1999

Franz Wright