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.




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