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.