by David A. Epstein
Throwing the coyote from my bedroom
window wakes me up. Its silhouette and
wild struggle at the screen had sent me
scrabbling at my bureau drawer for something:
a lamp, a camera, a hammer.
The coyote lands, flattens, and pads off,
no more interested in the twelve foot leap
that had him clinging like a mantis
to the metal screen. Seeing him there,
I had drawn a breath larger than my lungs,
the balloon inflated to the bang—
edge of the elastic.
When I was nine
one spring the class tough stared through his forelock
at a quiet downpour. He said Ha geshem ha acharon,
which is “the rain the last,” and he drew in
a vast breath at our schoolroom window in
Tel Aviv, where, indeed, the rain would not
again fall that year.
Deaths and endings are breaths
past capacity, until one’s pumpkin heart
gets used to aching at the edges,
and even expects the next. Boxes in
basements unopened for years. And rain.
So much rain that fills the canvas
pericardium until the fabric weeps.
When I am not in Tel Aviv, where winter is rain and means rebirth.
When the swollen core of my sternum hurts
enough for me to want to be a husk,
then, I think, what must it be to be
a disconnected ember alight
on someone else’s window screen?
Whenever anything clings to my screen,
I find myself exhaling, ready for the next coyote,
my house surrounded, my night a circle of howl.
DAVID A. EPSTEIN supplemented his teaching habit with construction stints in residential, light commercial, exhibit manufacturing, and theater. But less and less he taught school, finding the job was such deskstitution. He married, and, a couple years later, stayed home and raised the kids while his wife supported the whole show. There wasn’t a day in those ten or twelve years when he didn’t feel like the luckiest man on the planet. Through it all, he wrote poems. They piled up, dragging along with him like an unseen Linus’ blanket. Rarely, he sent things out, and published a half-dozen poems in places like in Poesia, Poetic Hours, The Lyric, Blue Collar Review, Shofar, and The Rat’s Ass Review. He is on the board of the Hartford Friends and Enemies of Wallace Stevens (http://www.stevenspoetry.org). Epstein treasures his hours gleaned from the middle of the night, where he can write. It’s like stepping through the wardrobe, arriving in Oz, switching on the light in the rainbow factory. He’s still a long way from Salingeresque, but he enjoys those times when he can turn away from the screens-world and follow the line of words across the page, into their nest. Sometimes he gets to meet their queen.