Sandy Fontana

Today means nothing even though birds clatter
at the rafters; like fists through starched sleeves,

they carry chaff and string to weave nests. Five
robins plash and lift from the rain puddle where

the sidewalk dips to collect rock, cradle mud—dust
in midsummer. I wonder: why bother with bitter

or ebullient, everything made-up in the made-up
world. Sun hot through this prewar window-glass

illumes its waves and bubbles as if time’s literal
breath were trapped here, enough to charm me

out of a sense of loss. These months, collecting
unemployment, I’m spoiled and broke, whiling

my time watching the backyard bloom a field
of violets, clover, wild strawberries. There are things

we don’t see that we think don’t exist: child labor
in the twenty-first century. And if we think of it we

can’t hold it long. And if we think deep and wide:
kings and slaving children and profiteers all equal

on the spirit level. I experiment with looking past
actions. I experiment with neutrality, the impersonal.

But how do our minds reconcile the patterns they see?
I want new vision, my eyes a Kirlian camera recording

haloes of energy, crowns of glory. There are things
we don’t see that exist. The ancient Romans buried

their children close at hand, under their houses’ eaves
to subdue, to placate the children’s rising ghosts.

“Perigee” was published in the 2014 edition of The Labletter.

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