Joan E. Cashin writes from Ohio, and she has published in many literary magazines.
Bridge at the River
The clouds are massed at sunset,
the pastels spread out from star to star.
The water is covered with a film of white gold,
opaque, like a road leading to another world.
In the monastery, there is one light on,
one aperture in the wall,
one narrative unfolding in the empty rooms,
one prayer like a road leading to another world.
From this peak, we can see the year pivot,
the forest spare, the leaves blank,
the air sharp and instructive.
The shadows fall carefully at dusk,
violet and neutral on the soft ground,
as if days not seasons follow each other,
as if there is no aging and no death.
They had lunch at an inn overlooking the river
and then they walked to a bookstore,
pacing in tandem through the lush afternoon.
The air was fresh off the woods, like his breath
on the back of her neck when he reached for a book.
She took his hand, and his nail grazed her palm.
They went to a bar and sipped pastel drinks,
the numb bartender staring, the lonely women staring.
She turned to him to say yes, yes, and he said
it's early so let's have another drink.
Scroll on a Canvas
A tawny bird ripples up from the hedge,
while the humans float in the basking light.
Three students, giddy with the holiday,
step onto the gravel, their gait unsteady but glad.
Two lovers stroll by and stop for a photograph
in front of the museum.
They embrace and walk away,
impeccable in their perfect accord.
As the water drains down from the September sky,
the trees go dark with sepia dye.
Their weight builds up to near-gravitas,
as the branches bow humbly down to the grass
in the grainy half-light shed by the lamps
on the brick walk where our footsteps tamp.
Manet, no Monet, the students bleat
as we go home in a drizzle to confront our defeat.
Brace for the paper, shoulder the pen,
it is time for the books to be opened again.