Cavity, Batesville, Mississippi. Photo by A.H. Jerriod Avant.

Dogwood Holy

while listening to Pink Floyd’s The Wall

the cold comes too early
we try to close the windows
but the fading days
spread their doubt across our sleep

footsteps on the floor above
sound like knocking on my door
and in the static of the telephone
I swear I hear you smile

did we undo ourselves
somewhere among ryegrass and chickweed?
will we remember each other
when the last of these rooms
is boarded shut?

the TV says war is coming
coming like the first November snow
like a phone call reminding you to vote
like a knock on my door
which I do not know
if I will answer

the night you told me
you loved me but would leave in May
in alcohol and unwashed sheets
our fingers never touching

gin and rain fill the small room
in the distance someone is crying
I lie on the table
eyes closed
to all but the storm

sometimes I forget
which doors lead home
and who will answer
when I knock

the Klan is marching
at home we are protesting
at home they tell me
the Black boy was punched against a car
the license plate came clean off
and the mountains are burning

reclaim this table
reclaim these feet and the boots
that carry them
reclaim the mud and dirty snow
reminding us where we have walked

my father’s family died in the camps
did they think of us before the doors closed?
think of the children and dogwoods
that must surely grow in their stead?

the boycott continues
fires in Carolina break containment lines
in three locations
you can see the smoke for miles
as if it is reaching across the surface
of all things

we say good evening
even though the pines are dead
and the wisteria burning
we say good evening to Eliot
Dickinson and Merwin
good evening to Komunyakaa and Hughes
good evening to concussion grenades
at Standing Rock
good evening to the man
drinking on the floor
and to the one-armed woman
laughing on the ceiling

we say good evening
with all the truth of those
who have nothing
else to say

  • Zachariah Claypole White

    About

    Zachariah Claypole White writes poetry, short fiction, and song lyrics, and performs in two bands, The Arcadian Project and Eden Falling. His poems have appeared in The Plum Creek Review and The Albion Review, and have won numerous awards.