Leaving, with Hummingbirds
You place your napkin then fork on your plate
to indicate how far we’ve come to fail,
or maybe it’s the table wine talking
to me, through you, while you walk toward
where I stand on a step ladder
with a thin roll of masking tape I hold
between my teeth so I can’t talk,
and so my hands are free to x the windows.
Really, I’m watching hummingbirds,
the few that remain, dart back, fly forward,
like instruments of finally—
begin the bloodletting.
I don’t look down to see
what your face wants to apologize for this time,
but know you’re sorry for something
by the way you lean your head
against the back of my upper thigh
and hug my leg like it’s a stripper pole.
Outside, at the jagged edge of never,
clouds contemplate turning tornado,
or derecho, or malfunctioning.
They follow through, or they, like us,
are doomed to diminish.
In this gray daylight, there is clarity,
but no sweet way to say:
I hope this year’s hurricane takes the house,
or, how about, let’s live our own lives from now on.
For twenty years, I waxed,
I pulleyed words and worlds from pages
to craft a Rock Gate Park
with no wand.
Keeper of a Masonic compass,
my ritual, a self-induced suffering,
was to kneel in rice,
night by night, remembering:
you’re too skinny, too old, too short, too poor—
your words before you left me
at an altar near the Baltic
and waved on your way away.
For twenty years, I waned,
hoisting bricks into the bed
of my beat-up pick-up
with high and low lilts
of the one thing working, my voice.
Lead from Latvia to Homestead, Florida,
with whispers I kited coral weightlessly
over devilwood, palm and ever-blooming ixoras
to a pyramid of space, walled within palmettos,
I divined harbored lay lines.
For twenty years, I waxed and waned
and crooned my songs to construct the corners,
urging each brick to a tight fit,
so nothing would ever again escape,
not threads of heat, nor needles of light.
* * *
Hillary Joubert received my B.A. degree from Louisiana State University and my M.A. and M.F.A. degrees from McNeese State University in Lake Charles, LA, where I work as an Instructor of English. My poetry has appeared in Kweli, Swamp Lily Review, Sin Fronteras, Platte Valley Review, Nerve Cowboy, The Louisiana Review, Dream Fantasy International, The Hurricane Review, and Touchstone. Hillary Joubert won a 2009 Louisiana Division of the Arts Fellowship award in Literature and a 2005 Ruth Lilly Fellowship for Young Poets nomination.