What We Couldn’t Know – George Perreault
The kids across the street had daily tasks, Leon’s
to sweep the inside stairs, which often he forgot,
and we’d sit on our porch, waiting for his mom,
waiting for the air to fill with thuds and wails, and
in the calm thereafter we’d speculate on marriage,
the oddness of pairings – that sturdy fishwife’s gentle
husband, a Fordham grad who drove Studebakers
and voted for Stevenson, his pleasure of an evening
singing duets with McCormick, their tenors floating
indistinguishable above the fireflies’ metronome.
How, we would ask, how…and though Leon whispered
once, through a doorway he’d seen her going down,
surely that wasn’t enough, was it, not the answer, there
on the outskirts of the middle kingdom, scant years
before holy mysteries were unveiled in backseats and
haybarns, dreams realized and abandoned, before the
kneeling unto, moonlight burning our skin, before
unfathomable music and the quadratics of desire,
some of us wandering sightless in the desert, others
sinking beneath the waves of midnight’s white death.
George Perreault has received awards from the Nevada Arts Council, the Washington Poets Association, the International Dancing Poetry Festival, the McCabe Poetry Prize, and the Fischer Prize in Poetry. He has served as a visiting writer in New Mexico, Montana, and Utah, and his work has been nominated both for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. Recent work appears in The American Journal of Poetry, Timberline Review, High Desert Journal, and Weber – The Contemporary West.