Hunter's Moon: Poems from Boyhood to Manhood


by Joseph Meredith

 

The Old Man in the Garden

All of summer has turned brittle overnight:
the weightless shell of the wasp
I found this morning in a web;
the shucked husk of the mantis, riding light
as a shadow in the dry grass
that leans against the bricks, beyond hope or prayer;
and almost overnight, my father’s fragile bones.

The yellow marigolds, robust yesterday —
so many small suns suspended in the green —
wilt and blacken, letting themselves down
like the heads of old men drooping off to sleep.
A hundred thousand maple wings spin
like gyros in the wind.
And the dogwood drips its scarlet berries on the ground
where light is sifted to the thinness of a scythe —
the green gloss of its leaves
spotted purple, spotted brown,
as though a dying man, thin fingers colder than ice,
had touched them in the night,
a touch as gentle as a father’s, saddening and chill.

Each leaf will bear the fingerprints
and bleed to crimson in a week.
The sun ticks farther south each day,
and in a month, the white.

But the dogwood anchors memory:
the earth will lean to more congenial light.
What’s weightless will have weight again —
a hundred thousand maples lodge beneath the snow,
and in the head of every marigold, father,
two hundred sons.

 



Praise:

These are . . . poems about loving your parents, loving your wife, loving your children. With humor and affection, Meredith’s poems make life’s fundamental mysteries and pleasures fresh again. The chronological arrangement made me feel as if I were reading a novel.
— John Keenan, former editor of Four Quarters

 
Meredith writes from where most people live, in the midst of family, work, daily life. . . . The healing powers of love and affection are Meredith’s usual subject, . . . yet he never tips a poem into sentimentality. This is a fresh collection, full of the wonder and energy one hopes to find on opening a new book of poems.
Choice


Joseph Meredith is a generous, risk-taking poet not centered in self but deeply fond of others, unafraid to confront powerful feelings. It’s a joy to meet poems so touching, fresh, and accurate as "Acid Test," "Teaching Goldfish," "Midnight, Walking the Wakeful Daughter," and more. I love them, and hazard a guess that you will too.
— X. J. Kennedy, author of Fresh Brats and Cross Ties: Selected Poems







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