James B. Nicola

The Sheath

At last he has the time to think about
to whom it had belonged, and what it held,
before it came to him, and then his wife.

He’d given it to her happily when she
admired it, once. In it she kept her emery
board. Before that, his slide rule. Before that,

who knows? A nacre-handled letter-knife?
A pair of manicure scissors? A pocket
level for a carpenter? Who cares?

He does, today, and wonders, as it sits
empty, high on his hutch, as on a throne,
a senile emperor, fine leather lined

with time, once-brilliant beading fading, but
if not enjoying the sinecure of
retirement, quiet about it, and calm.

Twilight is the Meetest

time for desultory assignations
like poetry, where the question of which
came first, chicken or egg, falls, superseded

by this response: that from every day springs forth
the dark, as from night, light. Which is both birth
and surrender, give and take, at once. Although

the western, younger faiths trump living in
the present, as the eastern override
fear of the Last and wonder on the First,

poetry's spun in that faith where You Are
left-right in the moment, aware enough
of swallowing nights and half-digested days—

and vice versa—to make the piquancy
a sweaty-sweet unbearable rash, a near-bursting
dread to cherish and sigh for with one pen

as brush, chisel, polishing cloth, scimitar, and olive branch
brandished upward toward the winking eye,
out and down to the world, and you, for ever.

James B. Nicola © 2014