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Richard Foerster

An Apparition

     Comet NEOWISE . . . will not return to the Sun

          for another nearly 7,000 years. – NASA

Angel of ice. Little arrow

to the eye. Easy to make of you

everything you’re not. Shuttlecock

in cosmic wind, egret’s plume

in a pot of ink, old man’s tuft

of thinning hair. Whatever omen

you ferry on your long ellipse

glimmered in bronze-age skies.

We know your kind: heralds

of plague and divine births,

a Norman ordained to topple

the Saxon from his steed,

even an apocalyptic craft

to whisk a worthy few

through heaven’s gate. Tonight

I stood in an open field as far

from others as I could reach,

held you steady as I was able,

peered long through the lens

that kept me enthralled

till my muscles tremored, shook,

and like a string that snapped

on a child’s balloon, I felt a part

of me abandoned to the dark,

those milky fires, the extinguishing

distances where every intention

evaporates. Earth’s sweet damp

snagged me back. The field

had gemmed with citrine flashes,

and from the encircling trees

a guttural antiphony of frogs

spilled out. Frantic black-

winged hungers darted overhead.

I had no need. A mist

had risen from the ground.

A mosquito hymned at my ear.

Those Last Years

his arthritic genuflections had grown

into stingy worship: he’d sit & sip his beers

among the defeated rust-blotched crabs, gaunt-

limbed & shadeless in an aftershower of leaves.

Touch-me-nots rose at the borders,

an orange glow of goatish horns, their pods

dangling like piñatas, ready at a snap

to pepper the ground with disorder.

& he let them & watched from beyond

temptation, too riddled with shrapnel

to raise a defiant hand against rewilding.

Decades he’d tended to other fires, dead-

headed geraniums’ spent blooms, mulched

& weeded, clipped his formless world back

to shapeliness, dahlias, begonias, lilies,

each boundless beauty corseted & confined.

I sold that house a dozen years ago

& find myself today bent with not-quite

remorse, troweling a plot of dirt, more grit

than soil, where I’ve strewn twelve crocus corms—

No, he’d say to me, not like that, like this:

four yellow           four blue            four white.

Richard Foerster’s eighth collection, Boy on a Doorstep: New and Selected Poems (Tiger Bark Press, 2019), received the 2020 Poetry by the Sea Book Award. Other honors include the “Discovery”/The Nation Award, Poetry magazine’s Bess Hokin Prize, a Maine Arts Commission Fellowship, the Amy Lowell Poetry Travelling Scholarship, and two National Endowment for the Arts Poetry Fellowships—as well as two Maine Literary Awards for Poetry. Recent work appears in The Maine Review, ellipsis, Citron Review, Quiddity, The American Journal of Poetry, Café Review, The Night Heron Barks, and Tar River Poetry. He lives in Eliot, Maine.

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