By Shelly Norris
Laying down a thick coat of rich waxy color
on the large abstract Mandela, as with everything I begin
from the outer border rather than the center. Beyond
rustling leaves churning peripheral sunlight into geometry
through the wavy antique glass whisper my father’s mantra:
When will you learn to pay attention?
Past my fence, across the street, inside their fence,
full of dry gold the neighbors’ yard glistens and chatters
in the breeze. Hazy from this distance, I put on my bifocals.
I always see their yard more clearly. Still shimmering
pliant and green, my Cottonwoods’ leaves will turn last,
a dangerous delay fooling me into believing
there is always tomorrow to wash these windows.
In the frenetic leaving and coming and leaving
laundry, dishes, bills, dust piles up—all going nowhere
as if there is a forever right here. I know better. I spent
the morning in direct sunlight scrubbing forty years
of cigarette tar off Granny’s Hoosier cabinet.
There is no end to the negligence I could confess.
Mostly I have been careless with time and love and money
as if there is always more. Some would say I keep to myself
too often, my mind seldom present. I won’t deny it.
This morning a multi-faceted ruby caught in the center
of a dream web, spun me out into this waking, my first thought
always of lost love. Today there was desire here to care
for my little world. I move into the Mandela and color the center
diamond ruby. Everything today happened inside this poem.