Two Poems

The Widening of WI State Hwy 32

Dust in the day, dark dirt in the night

Wind-driven earth gritted windows,
sieved through screens to closed doors,
stuck in patches on painted clapboards,
whistle-whirled great lengths of gutters,
gathered interior gain stay on shoes, feet,
dogs’ pads.

Street lamps were disconnected,
unemployed save for marking boundary borders.
Tether-tied with blue plastic ribbons,
they shared the linear limits with lath barrettes.

Backhoes bullied bulldozers
to peel up white striped asphalt puzzle pieces,
to pull up loaves of pumpernickel black soil,
then the underneath golden rye clay.
Each peel, each pull sent lump rocks rolling,
careening to easement edges:
bystanders of building.

Dust in the day, dark dirt in the night

One black evening, aided only by Cassiopeia
and a bleached scoop of moon,
we ventured out  to hunt for boulders
with wheelbarrow and shovel,
gloved hands grasping a one-eyed,
shut-eyed flashlight.
Feet and wheel sank softly into ground gravel.
Our noses took in the dust puffs our eyes could not.

We rated each lump rock bystander critically:
too small,
broken in two,
too heavy to lift.

Moving a few yards to the next contender,
a voice surprised us with booming greetings.
Our neighbors with wagon and blanket
were evaluating bystanders as well.

After much rolling and lifting,
wrapping and pulling under cover of darkness,
our block of garden landscapes was bettered
by bystanders,
rock guardians of the new road.


True Grit

When one sieves sand,
each grain yields a view
of its shielded sedimentary sides.
Sand stubbornly sticks in the screen,
just as it stubbornly rolls and tosses,
wave after tumbling wave.

In close examination, twelve grains
are not better than one.
Unique as a winter’s snowflake,
each deserves scrutiny.
With eye rappelling down its shiny face,
the mind recalls past journeys of ions,
of eons of time.

Sand is hem-trapped in the coat of many colors,
thrown upward by Cleopatra’s dancing,
toe-ringed foot.
It is the skin chafer of posing Polynesians
in Gauguin paintings of Tahitian tints.
Sand is the firm boot grip on Normandy shore,
the on holiday, head out burial at Brighton Beach.
Sand layers the glass, makes the glass, jar
to show its flickering facets in candlelight glimmer.

—Marilyn Windau, Sheboygan Falls, WI