Silken Whistle*

I remember heated autumns

shucking corn by hand with Grandpa

in the loamy bottomland where sometimes

 

tall stalks stabbed your cheeks to fever.

To shake the boiling backdraft

from the sweaty wagon team

 

we would cut the darkest melon

sown in early summer's wisdom.

The taste of melting plash

 

would curl my lips alive

like icy draughts from shaded

springs after making hay.

 

But I remember most

the airy symphony

of Grandpa's silken whistle.

 

It began at sunup every day

and carried through the chicken yard

across his choring in the barn

 

all the way to the kitchen

where I still groped for shoes.

It bubbled up the valley like a sleeve

 

and thinned the lifting mist

and rinsed the dew away

and warmed the squirrel's wink awake.

 

The song was strong and never frayed

like a goldfinch flash

against a dusky hollow. Though I

 

could never place the melody,

the guileless notes together chimed,

pealed beneath the skin of time

 

and softly ring sometimes still

late September Saturdays when I

arise alone and thirst for home.

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*Published in Poet Magazine (Spring 1995).