On the Line

stock-footage-a-slow-pan-left-of-a-laundry-load-of-bed-sheets-and-pillow-cases-swaying-in-the-wind-while-hangingI still show up to find out
what happened to me
and the rest of us, to know how a plot
continues without the characters,
how my turn of phrase
feels in someone else’s mouth,
in a different land, in a
country beyond our imagining.

I live in a small house down a dirt road
My husband leaves for the paper plant,
three hours before my children
ride the bus to school.
I hang out the laundry on line
strung between rusted poles
a few feet from the line of woods
that angles down a ravine
to the muddy Grand River.

I look for mystery everywhere,
in the scissortail diving from
the telephone pole, in my daughter
with her beautiful, useless art,
in the monster truck igniting dust
into a storm that leaves
caterpillar trails on the white sheets
that have been dry for hours.

–Shaun Perkins

NOTE: I am experimenting with some major revisions of old poems. I have posted many of these that I wrote as an Arthurian poetry cycle. This is one of them. The original version is below. I find that I like both of them, but for different reasons. I also find the older one is too talky. If you have any opinions either way, please comment!

Morgana in the Yard (2005 version)

 I come back to you through time,
not to settle scores, which is not my way,
but to find out what happened to me
and the rest of us, to know how a plot
continues with the actors gone.
Every depiction is accurate and not.
Every turn of phrase is mine and someone
else’s. I stand on the shore and sweep
my arms across the bay. With this perspective
I can hug the whole lake, and not touch it
at the same time. At the same time
I held him in my arms, my skin was not against his.
I was never against him.

I live in a small house down a dirt road
in Oklahoma. My husband works at the paper plant,
my children ride the bus to school.
I hang out the laundry on line strung between rusted poles
spanning the back yard. At the edge of the yard,
the forest, they call them woods, begins.
I only walked there once because
even in the strangeness, the ancient voices
still called to me. Even if it was just a pond,
it still called to me to kneel at the bank,
to hum that song that would bring the ferry
and take me home.

I come back to you through time
to be you and not separate, for that was the downfall
of us all—women and men, kings and commoners.
The mist that divided us was heavy
and as real as a concrete wall built to build on.
There is mystery everywhere, and so
I am remembering to see it when the scissortail
dives from the telephone line by the road,
when my daughter brings home useless art,
when a monster truck ignites dust into a storm
surrounding my house that leaves caterpillar
trails on the white sheets hanging tent-like, held
by wood clamps on plastic-coated wire.

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