Cathexis Northwest Press
Illumination; For a While
By: Raymond Byrnes
Yesterday, the sycamore’s twisted grey
branches soaked in stale dishwater sky.
Today, in deep blue glacial air, chalk-smooth
bark along the trunk glows snow-blind white.
A birdbath, its frozen rim pecked by passing
chickadees, refracts the wind-chilled sky.
All night this brittle lens will hold in focus the
light-emitting diodes of passing constellations.
The coldest sunrise comes in clearest.
From a polar angle, frigid lasers strike
hillside clumps of stiff brown weeds,
igniting tattered filaments of goldenrod.
For a While
Roy Orbison sings
“Crying” on YouTube
in grainy black and white.
Behind dark glasses, his
face remains impassive.
“I was all right, for a while”
Press mute and he looks
so stiff. The right hand strums
but the lips are nearly still.
Press volume, close your
eyes, and the last loon wail
falls far out on the lake.
“But I saw you last night”
Ice shards ping on stones
in a clear mountain stream.
“I thought that I was over
you” Glass chimes stir
in lightly falling snow.
“I love you even more than I
did before” You will hear
yourself repeating it for days.
“Now you’re gone and from
this moment on I’ll be crying,
crying” Your hair turns grey;
your heart stays seventeen.
Raymond Byrnes taught college English in the Midwest before leaving a tenured position to join the U.S. Geological Survey/NASA Landsat satellite program, where he managed communications for many years. Now retired in Virginia, his recent poems have appeared in Shot Glass Journal, All Roads Will Lead You Home, Panoply, Typishly, Better Than Starbucks, Eclectica, Sky Island Journal, and Split Rock Review.
“For me, it's nearly all about the imagery.”