TRIPTYCH, Matthew Robb Brown

by Matthew Robb Brown

One. We tossed the TV out 

What was thrift has morphed into sales-resistance
—C. S. Lewis, inexact quote.

We tossed the TV out (really it's leaning against a chest of drawers in another room). 
We turned the sofa (sophia!) and the chairs to face the middle, angled to window seat,
river vista. The scroll at the front of Gary Snyder's Mountains and Rivers Without End: 
I know this is only earth, but it looks like heaven.  Could it be on earth as it is in heaven?
Who can sew up the curtain ripped once and for all, top to bottom? Temple falls,
in three days grows tall.

Just then cottonwood trees got flapped with wind and clapped their hands.

Just then two vultures gracefully cut the cake of day.

Just then a cardinal catapulted its coal into cool birch, its mate smoldering under ash. 

Just then a pileated woodpecker stood to its height on a snag of maple, 
               and drummed and drummed.

Just then we talked about it.

Just then I could see by the glow in your face.

Just then the banks of evening washed up and covered our shore.

Robin peep-peeped, chirp-chirped. Squirrel chuffed out his brief

—some lilies nodded. Such to see and hear, I may never get that 
              thing put back up.

Two. Double the Sycamore Gothic

Did God just want to thicken the plot when he shipped that snake? Was that even his 
return address? Go far down that path and you're in for trouble. You start to think of 
God as a bad three persons. Forgive me. Double the sycamore gothic with shield and 
scarab windows before the wide sky. Salvation, lifted in the sycamore over the tall 
crowd, hones its object. Come down and take me home to dinner he said. Ash spoke 
notches in its leaves, up arches; then the ash worm couldn't touch it. Beech and sugar 
maple form a twin tree joined at the roots, but keeping separate natures. Black eagles 
and eyes glyphed on the beech's bark, crypted in the cragged mysteries of maple.
I once knew varnish drops on the white plaster ceiling as “nibnings:” Exclamation 
points rounded and splattered. 

Always, the appearance of wrong hurts like wrong.

Always, the sturdy barn, sad and sinking, when only clocks had turned. Regimented 
        fence posts burst into wandering, puffed-out rows of silver-tipped willows, 
        thin sticks fleshed with trouble-joy.

Always a brilliant spot of color in autumn's charged gray; perhaps an aspen 
        leaf has fallen. I saw it among pale, muddy leaves at the hilltop, deer
        skull, blood.

Always, four double birches up to it in catkins round my neighbor's house,
        through the trellis-work, before the wall with bracken fern and 
        cherry; the fourth, in its cut-out corner at the back of the garage 
       where I hit windless the bottom of the foundation trench.

Always, this shock of solid earth. 

Always, I was looking up or out when my feet. . .

Always, gold catkins bannered in sunlight, one of those blue-winded days I,
        a child, trailed the vapor and lights of the hand that gave me. So many
        catkins the branches sagged above the low, blue house. 

Three. I Will Be Revenant

As a kid you rarely think of making a friend as test run for a relationship. There's no
freight to friendship then. Now it's fraught. I will be revenant to the fire that has burned
low, burned high, but burned. The smile along the sofa, the touch I know that knows me. 
Be that old shoe that fits you. In the shifting scroll that moves along the river now 
appears a tree that looks like a Greek Church facade, and one that resembles a roof-cross. 
And here—the pearl of price, the satiny spider inside oyster peony, pricked out from 
tiny irritation—forground-focussed against the brushstroked flowerpot deck. A fan of 
branches at the top of the tree in the shape of two o'clock. 

Just then aspen leaves unroll until crinkling foil resumes to shimmer.

Just then, blue light fairly lights the sky's dome, gets lighter descending. 

Just then, tulip tree leaves, folded over in half, push soft from the bud, then open 
        their books to the lesson. 

Just then, geese, loitering in my neighbor's lawn leap, and with the motion of a 
        wave, curve up over the levee, settling in a froth on the wild, wet side.

Just then, we're set up with more goodbyes to say.

Just then, I click another notch in mystery.

Just then, a wild-haired western bonfire, caught in a cloud: that old orange cat, 
       dogs the sun. 

Matthew Robb Brown has been writing and publishing poetry for 47 years. He graduated from Saginaw Valley State University in 1976, and earned his MFA in poetry at Ashland University in August, 2016.

Matthew has worked in factories, shops, apartment complexes, etc. because he has no orientation to the emotional/relational rigors of a career in the traditional sense, due to high-functioning autism.

He has been married to Kay Elizabeth Brown since 1982, and has a daughter, a son, and two grandsons.


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