Phillip A. Rau

     Bob’s speaking for Bill about the layoffs. Bill’s drinking for Bob about the same. Despite his obvious distress over being snubbed by the bartender after a sixer of the standard stuff I didn’t offer a house of words beyond words. The easy, forgiving grief over how he will wander off under the dappled light and return home in a squad car philosophically enriched.   Or how his son will rip open a frog from hind legs to jaw and how he will feel after. Not because I can’t imagine the way he will carefully hold a hand over his heart after he has unfurled the skin from his meaty thumb. Or the first restlessness of hand or tongue   when the sunlight piles into his bedroom in the late afternoon from a distance that is more dream that I can tell.
     I promise to never visit with my disappointment, that river I ask language to save me from, and it does. I will not say be comforted and then pull the camerawork back to someone else I haven’t named because once in a fit of jealous impotence a man struck a wife and because this story isn’t about blame or how red her hair had once been before color became something from an aluminum tube.

Woman(Rose) is a (Rose)Dress

     Her Grandmother Mimi had read it in a book somewhere. Said to her mother wouldn’t that be lovely? And so, when born, she already had a name and a background. A young love and years of pain and work ahead of her.
     The sky seemed very low and unsteady. There was some big event: drinks on the veranda with the    mullah. There were tears in his eyes and we reached high to pat his shoulders and back because words by then were equally unavailable.
     An infernal messenger flew along the avenue to a chant of thugs. An orchestra pit firelit a plane descending through the sky’s collapse. Shop windows shabby and inoffensive.
     After a jag of bible-speak she took my hand and we might have danced in the garden. Lit in relief and     quiet amazingly deep even though we had moved only steps from the others toward the river. Nobody could say for certain when it would set sail.
     From the moment she was born I’ve been on my knees. Timed sap that falls through a negative space and the smoky length of light that fills it. You don’t know what you don’t know I told her, which is something soldiers in the CIC at Verona used to say during the Great War. You can’t see what you can’t see.
     After rain was discovered in a Nantucket graveyard we went there and were caught in full flight. She was fluttering a bit, like a bird with its wing caught. I kept on muttering and mumbling just to keep her engine on until she had decided on a direction.
     No … no, it’s ok. You don’t have to answer. You don’t have to tell me your name and I won’t tell you mine.


     AT 12:15 p.m. the house on Race St. shuddered into flame and provoked the police band into static police band static and the fire engines rolled out all over town and by engines I mean one ladder, two volunteers and a real live Dalmation.
     Noodles or something to that effect I think I meant so many faces, so many, and time always a train. It’s sound. That piling up of days.
     It’s been twelve years since I bared my desires till they burned the earth with parallel figures. Shadows that repeat and by which we multiply.
     Or is form all we are? Floating in a sea of peace. A world where no one asks ‘What did you say? Would you repeat that?’
     And only a ship could always be another ship, at once an albatross and an alder from under whose feet the ground has slipped for good.
     Bedroom windows hug alders or else its poplars. The girls a drowsy blue and tracing the sills, a stampede away from scoring a mention in tomorrow’s fire report as on-scene assisting kidnappers of a municipal animal.
     So I begin to think of a dragon’s tale. The story contains a crime as deep as salvation itself. It begins in an enclosed garden. An orchard to be precise where, we are to understand, the last hope of man has just been catching dust and turning gray. It ripples out from there, gathering density and color, the house in full swing now. A way to believe what you would like to believe.
     In stages this is called dying, the struggle to see half-moon smiles a mirror in faces before they chase the rabbit in the moon again.
     A dream to strike the harp of heaven. To make death a friend.

Phillip A. Rau graduated in April from the University of Pittsburgh with an M.F.A. in Poetry. He is currently working as a reporter at the daily newspaper “The Record-Argus” in Greenville, Pennsylvania.

“My second childhood home, in Fairfax, Va., had an immense closed-in porch where I can remember holding pirate birthday parties, killing what I’m sure was someone’s escaped pet tarantula, and sitting-out in during the summer thunderstorms that raced through our suburban neighborhood. It was something my parents–my father really–had built themselves. My mother, a notorious gardener, kept potted and hanging plants all around the frame which my brothers and I would use to set up our toy soldiers and play at war.”