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Vespers

Kay Barnes

The day has gone slack, but not for the noisy grackles
who darken my pear trees, who want what they want, nor
for the sylphy single mom next door who thumps like a heart

on her treadmill. Passion fails for most of us, that's the truth.
But worse things happen in a life. Pre-teen daughters, left
with a live-in, hug designer handbags, slight their cats,
 
refuse my smiles. A boyfriend in Malibu, she told
my husband, uncoiling from her Jaguar in tights
and furs. Do I dare pass judgment
 
in the Age of Whatever? It's the North Dallas way,
molting lives like birds drop feathers,
as long as you're happy the length 
 
of a marriage. If I said something other than
have a good time, if I spoke like a nun, self-
denial? Or foretold like a sibyl the woeful
 
outcome? But I'm just an old neighbor
on the wrong side of a rose-covered fence.
And who can stand to see ahead the cost of her decisions?
 
Evening after evening my grackles come back
screeching, a babel of brute gesture
so unlike the bird I can't name
 
whose call begins with the pluck of a kiss
but ends at once with a sigh, a not unwelcome release
from the tight zero of desire. I've heard that bird, 
 
yes, I have, not in this place, but always at this hour.