Poetry: Michael Pickard


Sometimes the roads, even in midsummer,
stretched out their arms for us.
We washed burned feet,
puckered by gravel, in the river.
You led farther, upstream—past vines that coiled
around petrified boles of ash and oak,
remnants of silos; fence ledges
like misericords we leaned against
exhausted from chasing each other.
On a grassy bank,
locus of pathways, the river
screened over a rocky bed. You bent
and shaped the water to your mouth,
inviting me likewise to drink: Dispersed light
filters green through the thicket
overhead; a saffron quiet
broken only by yellowhammers: you,
bare-shouldered, fragrant; the cold,
emptying river.

The Baseball Field

Even the dirt this morning, copper-colored,
muddy, smelling vaguely like manure,
is enough to bring back ghosts, the lithe figure
of my father, younger now, fully working,
outside for the first time after his seizure,
playing just one game with brothers and friends,
coming up to bat, in the story Uncle Wes told me
years later, over beers, and hitting the pitch,
and running hard, but unable to stop, having to fall
on his head, to stop. We all laughed at him,
Uncle Wes said that evening and as he grinned,
remembering, a dirty bulb spluttered light
over the name-carved top of our patio table.
This bit of line chalk, husk of itself, but trace
enough, though faint, to recover a diamond,
the pumping legs that ran full tilt around it,
knees and shins knotted and bloody from sliding.


—To my father

Crickets, their flecks of sound softening
the noisome engine; the warnings of the lights
of cars passing, confused; greenhouses rising
from the darkness: where, inside the glinted panes,
an infrastructure of sprig and shoot moistening
is faintly visible. When I awoke, our car
bumped the railing, easy, like a boat against
a dock in the chop. You don’t remember.
The glasses had fallen from your nose. The river
below us slinking into thickets, and in a field
interspersed with hay bales, a juniper.

MICHAEL PICKARD is currently the Writer-in-Residence at the St. Albans School in Washington, D.C.

(c) copyright 2005, Michael Pickard; author retains all rights.