I roam around the yard aimlessly
making piles of cuttings
I’ll never know what to do with,
planting small trees here and there
and ones that will grow to forty feet
long after I am gone.
I hear people on their walks
speak to the birds in the trees
or whizzing by on their bikes.
I don’t look at them exactly
but instead prefer to decipher
their body’s intonations.
Children are about again.
They fill the air with laughter.
I dig holes in the hard clay
far deeper than called for,
my bargain with the earth.
The neighborhood cat stops by.
He lives nowhere and everywhere.
I rub his chin and he returns the favor
with a squint. I brush him
as tufts of winter fur drift away
like cottonwood on wisps of air.
He is all that I will engage with
over the course of this day.
I hear a helicopter and know
where it is headed.
I listen for the mail for delivery
of Philip Larkin’s Collected Poems.
They speak of the same ordinariness
that weighs itself upon all of us.
I think of the poem, “Ambulances”
and am reminded of my mother’s death
especially given the lines,
“They come to rest at any kerb:
All streets in time are visited.”
And the last time I saw her
waving goodbye from the window.
About the Poet
Stephen Ruffus’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in the Valparaiso Poetry Review, the American Journal of Poetry, Eunoia Review, Red Eft Review, The Stray Branch, and Hotel Amerika. He has studied poetry at Colorado State University, the University of California at Irvine, and the University of Utah. He is from New York City and resides in Salt Lake City.
For the first time in nearly five years, Vita Brevis is closed for submission. Read the full story here.