Stillwater

poem by Dave Morrison
from the new book
Stethoscope, which will be released on 2/28

The siding salesmen came
through just as the pre-retirees
grew tired of painting the
once-grand Victorians
their parents left them.
To the practiced eye the
scar tissue of change is
visible along the river;
the rotted water wheel, the
blackened foundation of the
powder mill, the remains of
a dam, the pilings where the
shoe factory once stood over
the rushing water.

1000 mornings up at 4 am for
ice time, weights and Ben Gay,
the NY Rangers highlights videos
played over and over until they
snapped, the Pee Wee trophies,
the clippings from the local
paper, the partial scholarship,
the noncommittal scouts, move
back home.  The over-sized
duffel jammed with pads and
skates rolls and thuds in the
trunk of his car like a body.

Driving to his job at Wal-Mart he
stops at the purposeless traffic
light downtown and watches the
flag snapping above the
courthouse.

It’s like swinging from one rope
to another; how do you let go
of what was in order to grasp
what can be?