And So I Watch
Helen Marie Casey
Red-tailed hawks are said to have
excellent vision. Still, one crashed.
He killed himself on a car windshield.
How meaningful can that be?
You chose a tree, the same one
you began to climb when you were
just twelve, yearning to be bigger,
stronger, more muscled, and agile.
Now no one wants to look at the tree
because they keep seeing you, inert.
It's like looking at your Christmas gifts,
the ones you didn't live to open. Time
stopped. Altered. Before. Then After.
Nothing else except vacancy and
the scream of the red-tailed hawk
whose flight is notably deliberate.
The hawk occasionally hovers on beating
wings, and so I watch for you, thinking
you watch, too, but not all the time.
Not all the time.
from HAWK & WHIPPOORWILL Winter 2018, Vol 3 Numer 2
Helen Marie Casey
You make funny faces at the camera, clown-like boy
in flannel pajamas, a red toy car in your hands, maybe
eight years old and, for the moment, happy. We watch
the years pile on, you teaching your cousin, the one who
idolizes you, how to scale the highest backyard mountain,
the two of you, survivors, coming indoors for cookies and
milk. Before you destroyed it, you kept a journal. I wonder
what you confided, which kind of code you used, and if it
helped at all, before you decided there was no point. What
could spilling words onto a page do? Did you try to say it,
how desolate you felt, the loneliness growing too large
to encompass, the cold, hard struggle to clamber down
the cliff more than you could embrace until you decided
you'd had enough. You decided to unburden yourself.
Totally unburden yourself. You climbed up, you tied
your wool scarf, tested a bit, then tightened the knot,
as any aviator would, visibility cloudy, winds turbulent.
Helen Marie Casey completed her B.A. in English and French at the University of Portland, her M.A. in English at Portland State University, and pursued doctoral work in Literary Studies at Washington State University. She worked for some time in Corporate Communications.
"Aviator" is from the collection, "You Kept Your Secrets"--a work in progress and was first published in SWEET.
This is a Louisiana Literature Press Publication.
Helen's poem "About the Azalea" appears in Maria Mazziotti Gillan's gorgeous PATERSON LITERARY REVIEW Issue 42/2014-2015
THE WORCESTER REVIEW, Volume XXXIV, Numbers 1 & 2 2013 contains Helen's ekphrastic poem, "Her Bath," Second Place Winner in the Frank O'Hara competition.
The CONNECTICUT REVIEW is one of New England's premier literary journals.
Wind heaves through the oaks. Limbs on the lilac fret.
Pines lean, their canopies like sailors when waves crash,
the sails swing, and the man in the crow's nest considers
the depth of the long drop. "I never saw a naked woman,"
Gerard Manley Hopkins confessed. He said he wished he had.
What might that have done, his poems embers,
his God a bellows, the naked woman nothing but herself.
On the Day Your Leg Is Amputated
This is the season of compromise
wind contorts the trees
maples, oaks, and elms lift their limbs
they dance as if they are made for wind
grackles lift from the stubble,
cacophonous, a great black exit
as if they know what winds can do,
as if they know the meaning of the dance,
and you tell me, as I lean to you,
If it has to be, well then, it has to be,
the way you will tell me, years hence,
We all have to go up on the hill some time.