Norman Dubie

The Shadows at Boxford

It’s not the white powder cauliflower of still-distant moons.
Maybe just the old salacious
sump of salt pork frying with milk?
It was, she thought, the modus operandi
for alien abductions
that became a predictable motive
for verse. He says
he’s going to the corner for Lucky Strikes,
a quart of lemonade, and collard greens —
then simply vanishes from our planet.
The summer anniversary
of a suddenly dead cat. The old lady
in a faded denim print walking back from the road
in the dance of the somnambulist.
Then shelling the colander’s yellow beans
For her poor chowder of potato with skins.
He’s reached the corner and is smoking
with a childhood friend.
The cloudburst was sensitive even to the phrasing of their sentences —
under the green and purple awning
he resumes his speech… the shock
struck her in the neck. And
how she stayed by him without
attraction or a single thought of gain —
buried his children, mowed his lawn
and the church’s —
all the while, in the lower registry
of voices,
the one loafer flung past the newspapers
filling with rain.

Norman Dubie
“The Shadows at Boxford” is from Mercy Seat (Copper Canyon Press, 2001).