This is the sound of an old woman
drawing water. She stands at the well,
turning hard as the bucket climbs,
splashing a little. Her hand on the crank
looks small and pale.
Maybe she drinks if the day is warm.
The water tastes of metal and stones.
This is the sound of a small voice
singing in high branches
above a house where no one lives.
The cats have gone away.
All night, locked doors rattle.
The building scrapes over its foundations.
In the morning you hear sounds
of a gray sky dragged from the depths of the sea.
An invisible eye stares from the mountaintop
here on this day of rain and wind. Is it true
you are going away? Now the lawn is buried
in leaves. The streets are empty in this nearly
deserted town. Houses huddle by streetlights,
shadows swallow the cars. The sky is empty
and gray. All day we have hidden
inside, as if the chill air would do us harm.
We read our electric books, or dose in our seats
as evening draws near. We have built a fire
and the logs crackle and smoke.
Here's where I will stay, hands flat on the arms
of my chair. But you stand by the door,
clutching a bag. Your boots idle by the wall,
you have grown a pair of sturdy wings. Your face
is lost among the oaks. I cannot bless
your leaving, not when earth rumbles and river
rises over rocks, spilling south across the broken ground.
Waiting for You
I waited for you on that day
of leaves and sun.
I sat on a stone near the river
and watched ducks
as they gathered
on brown water near the shore.
I waited in the cool air.
Maybe I was asleep then,
or it may have been a dream
on another day.
Your voice sounded through
the pines, but I couldn't see
your face. I waited for you
as darkness drained the sky,
and streetlights flickered on.
Was it weakness that I sang
nothing but your song,
or another form
of emptiness and need?
All night you were a rhythm
beating on my wrists,
a hint of perfume
among the scent of moss and bark.
Steve Klepetar's work has received several nominations Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize, including three in 2017. Recent collections include Family Reunion, A Landscape in Hell, How Fascism Comes to America, and Why Glass Shatters