71. The Three Times in My Life when I’ve Read William Stafford’s ‘Key of C – An Interlude For Marvin’ from Kansas Poems

We were on the road between our homes

speaking only of each other, instances and secrets.

You read to me on the way,

your voice elliptical in turns

and surroundings of stanzas and statements.

I saw the poem first through your voice:

all of them telling their futures,

their secrets to come to hold them fast to time.

I had to cry for their fates.

It seemed like our moment was in theirs,

the uncertainty of our timelines placed to sight.

She was born sometime later.

I had forgotten the poem as time travelled us

toward embraces of three.

I stumbled upon it and was stopped like a short breath.

I saw the poem through the both of you,

close by on the bed, in your light and sighing

moment of arms and nothing but that.

I had to cry for you and them

in the gathered instant of gathered fortune,

knowing how tightly you would always hold her.

The sun shined setting through

the windshield of the locomotive.

The air-conditioning and my shaded safety-glasses glinted it away.

I found the book of poems in my bag and read the poem again.

I was sure of my emotions in my surroundings of reflecting steel,

ballast black from loose oil and a co-worker stranger beside me.

But still, behind my glasses I had to cry for the poem.

The gentle giving. The gentle giving.

I put the book away and turned from the stranger,

bent to reach for a bottle of water from the ice bucket,

not offering one to him.

The poem swirled into me as cold water.

— Matthew Porubsky

Matthew Porubsky’s first book of poetry, voyeur poems, published by Coal City Press, was the winner of the Kansas Authors Club Nelson Poetry Book Award in 2006. His second book of poetry, Fire Mobile (The Pregnancy Sonnets,) is forthcoming from Woodley Memorial Press. He lives in Topeka where he works as a freight conductor for the Union Pacific Railroad.


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