Four Poems by George Lober


Who knows why I called you that Saturday
at the sight of them stacked in the gutter
like stalks of corn, or why after thirty years
he chose to tear them away from the picket fence
and set them there in the August sun,

why you understood I could not let them
lie there for days until the garbage truck came,
having seen their blossoms,
delicate as rice paper, unfold each spring,

or why you told me to wrap them in wet rags
and bring them home, where you transplanted them
in a bed beside the stone steps
where they blossom now,
though both he and the house are gone,

or why, that Saturday, nine months before his death,
I felt the need for something,
those innocuous white blossoms frail as his breath,
something from that broken house
each spring to bloom on.

Six Canada Geese
           For Franette

What I remember is an April morning
after the rains, a bitter, clear sky, and you
in your red parka tramping through the marsh

at Molera, while a hundred yards behind,
collar turned, gloves on, I tried to keep up,
following your white hair bright as any flame

in that cold light, when suddenly six Canada geese
swooped in from the levee behind,
rising over and dropping down so close

I could hear the whirr of each wing stroke,
almost touch their feathered underbellies overhead
as they honked and sailed toward you

and your raised hand. I stood there
for a moment until they disappeared beyond
the trees, then walked your way through the muck.

But nine years later I still remember this,
how earlier I had begrudged your penchant
for such treks, until I drew close,

and you merely winked. This, your old eyes glimmered,
is what you would have missed. Now what do you think?

What We Have Become

To speak of it at this age
as we often do, is to finally admit
that against our natures,
we have, like the two pines out back,
begun to lean on each other,

that branch by small branch,
in ways never expected nor desired,
we have become entangled,
so that now, without thinking,
we reach for each other
when we walk, one hand folding
into the other, or your arm
slipping casually inside of mine,

just as before dinner,
my hands open the jars,
yours dice the onions and tomatoes,
my arm reaches for the flour on the top shelf,
while later in the evening your fingers
apply lotion to the cracks in my face.

This is what we have become,
holding each other when we sleep,
or sitting opposite each other
on a window seat in the afternoon,
your feet tucked under my legs,
the sun above the water,
the pines barely moving together
in a slight wind,
both of us thinking should one fall,
part of the other would surely break.

On Your First Night at the Owl Bar

As crazy as it may sound,
on your first night at the Owl Bar,
the same one that Butch and Sundance
bellied up to more than a hundred years ago,
a woman you’ve never met
will turn to you after her second iced tea
and begin to tell you the story of her life,
though not the chapter by chapter,
day by day, “my life dealt me raw”
kind of story you’d expect in a place like this,
not the version you’ve steeled yourself for,
but the straight, no salt or guilt story
of a childhood etched with golf and travel,
a rambling college career descending into
real estate and her own business in Florida
with more work than she could handle,
will tell you all of it, adding always
how she’s alone, never a steady boyfriend
or partner, just work and work
and this thing for horses,
for the pure joy of riding wisping inside her
like a wind she can’t quiet or shut out,
until suddenly after her last break-up,
she up and leaves everything,
heads to Montana, driving straight
into the Tetons, drifting from one town
to the next, scared each night
until she comes across a ranch halfway
from nowhere and joins a cattle-drive,
actually joins it, riding a horse each day
from start to finish. And suddenly you’ll think
maybe it’s your beer or the altitude,
but this woman will seem more interesting
than you could have imagined,
more interesting than the history of the place
or the bullet hole above the mirror,
and sensing your interest, she will lean closer
to tell you honestly that nothing,
absolutely nothing, regardless of your status,
is so humbling as a day spent on a horse
chasing a cow. “It’s so much better,”
she’ll say, “than chasing money.”

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