Notes from an Ohio Tavern
There is a rituality in the careless talk,
The nostalgia of heavy animals
Driven from caves and nests,
Sitting on fence posts in bare, moonless fields.
The Negro at the counter nods
In his draft of Black Label,
Then blows smoke into an empty bottle.
What was it his mother told him, years ago?
White-headed babbler in a booth:
He remembers a snow that fell all night
Through the eaves of his attic room.
It was a foot high on his quilts by morning.
So many here tonight!
The jukebox sings in voices
They all can imitate.
It tells them they are loved.
The high school coach
Who can no longer arouse enthusiasm in boys:
His hands rests on the basketball-kneed woman
Who cheers his victories
And forgets his losses.
It is closing time,
And the snows drift in the shadowless streets.
They will walk home, or drive,
Moving like beavers
In black water
Toward huts of sticks.
© The Estate of Sandford Lyne