The Sweeping in Her Arms

John Poch

My wife rakes leaves by the lake
scratching out a song along the shore.
Miniscule grains of sand fly up
so a rare few cling to her shins
like flecks of hair to a long razor.
Even light seems to dread her arms
gentle as any cut wild iris fears
for its own forty-eight hour flower.

Meanwhile the lapping waves bank
the clarity of coins on her clean sweeps.
Like anything’s mortal interest, some want
is in the subtle oil of her palms
leaving dark stains on the handle,
mine in the salt of her neck,
mine in the sheet of clean-sheet night,
mine because it is not mine but wanted.
The want is that life goes on without her.

I want to tell the stars to give up—
give up astrology to the presidents 
who pile up black sacks of money
for their empty chairs of cigarette friends
and milk the poor with their skeletal cows
who live in an old contentment 
of grass sadness outside Eden.

All the lowly need now is her look
the way a sidewalk needs a single seed
of a weed. The poor appreciate green 
and the rich are somewhere acting rich
in their white cages while she sweeps who cares.
She sweeps more than leaves and leaves
her mark on order, of order, an open border
like a kitchen ready for a dinner. 
She takes a break, leaning on her rake 
and thinking the sky mistakes the lake
for its mother, she watches it happen 
and open with rain on the distant hills
in the form of a long dress sweeping.