Poetry for Meri…with Don Intonato

December 2020


There is no story here.
No twirling ambulance lights.
No gunshots in a bar.

She does not appear
saving me suddenly
from stepping in front of a car.

Or offering me her kidney
in the surgeon’s office
when he points to the fatal scar
on a grey X-ray.

In these months of quarantine
sheltered in our small suburban house,
I have come to realize
the valor in things unseen.

It is the courage to stay.
It is the courage of everyday.

When Death disguised as FedEx
makes his daily delivery,
she opens the front door
and tells him
he has the wrong address.

It is the courage to get out of bed
and walk across
a minefield of uncertainty.

To sit in a kitchen chair
looking out the kitchen window,
knowing she is going nowhere.

The tenacity to make a cup of tea,
the Lysoling of the mail,
the grandchildren waving
through the French doors.

We wait
for the ceasefire to resume,
two partisans
behind the barricades.
encamped in the living room,
surveilling the TV.
I watch over her
as she watches over me.


My new treadmill
takes up half the living room.

It arrived yesterday
from a warehouse in Brooklyn,
like an imported beast
crated for a zoo.

A gift from my second son,
overly concerned, that I,
after sheltering in place
for seven reclusive months,
have atrophied into the couch.

Afraid to leave
my house since March,
I am unexpectedly enamored
with this sleek avatar of fitness,
a gigantic treadmill time machine,

its time warp touchscreen
instantly transporting me
to a plethora of cityscapes
and outback trails.

I get up off the couch,
mount the enormous tread
and tap “Australian Trail Run,”
miniaturized on the display.

And I am whisked away
accelerating through miles
of bush-lined video trails.
Looking down,
I see the pebbled path
rushing beneath my feet.

Panning up, Camera Left,
beyond a tumble-down fence,
a half-harvested field of wheat
emerges from the outback bush
converging with the narrow trail ahead.

There, beside a red tractor,
beneath stacks of white clouds,
a large Grey Kangaroo
so startles me, I stumble.

A clownish, pot-bellied marsupial,
with long outlandish legs and feet
and shortened arms,
sitting upright on his thumper tail.

Dialing down my pace
to get a close up look.
I glimpse the deadpan Kangaroo
fastidiously chewing,
a tuft of the farmer’s wheat,
grasped in his tiny pugilist’s hands,

unruffled, it would seem,
by the anonymous human being
trespassing through his domain.

For a moment, we
are side by side aligned,
and I feel pierced
by his darkling Kangaroo eyes,

vigilantly squinting at me
as I dash past him, ramping
up my pace, the tilting trail
veering quickly off, Camera Right,
cutting from the wheat field
away into the spikey outback bush.

Compelled, I look back
over my shoulder and see
his long petulant face,
his grimacing Kangaroo smile.