Doog Wood

from Old Men Forget


Through one eye. Lafeyette lays quietly.

He does not nail it in place but the end

of th’longer paddle

is tapered and rounded to fit

the bottom of the pot ‘I said,’ exactly

the same shape.

The room is full of smoke, faint afternoons

‘damn, leave me be,’ both handles are

flat, soft

made with’at drawing knife so the pine

won’t dig, ‘dammit,’ when coming

into a curve.

There is a cold beating, Lafeyette, hard

glistens at the pit gazing I take

water, warm

from the bucket & pull off my clothes

& lay along the cool counterpanes

beneath the shed.


Then I went by slowly, and round behind

the barn, as I followed, she sat

deeper & graver

looking-up at lathing set a-pitch

and the window, open,

sixteen or eighteen inches hewn.

She would not think the full-moon full

unless she saw it in the water

and ‘only after

was it’ chinking on the back

like a ‘red spider’ falling

on each chestnut stall.

We’re on the outside of outside, fenced

from the garden to the hills

like the bells –

Ringing.    Ring.    Ring.

feeding now,

walking no regular rhythm.


The second again: by now it was full

whispering, chortling, crowing whippoorwill

between iron

beds & lamp unlit & still I face another

seam, withered, and lay through two half-inches

behind my head.

Across the floor, towards what hangs

from a nail, he catches himself up, no longer

any quiet, clean

linen – but th’poor shuffling now beneath

soaked cloth where he has found it and

begins again.

The bed planks creak, and I can make her

bare feet slow, not shuffling, not

stifled, her

voice not whispering, ‘git awn t’sleep,’ and

the twisting and grumbling sound

which will not grow.


Later on, in the kitchen, John sliced

not honest cornbread, not even

biscuit, ‘I hain’t

heard him say nothing,’ and we sat

in two chairs, with my back

against the wall.

‘I thought you said,’ it was as though

she walked straight through the sound

her feet, naked

leaving the voice ‘quiet.’ He took

another plate down, his hands

busy again.

‘It was the boy,’ I watched him go

over to th’sink and prepare

to wash, ‘that’s

what I’m talking about,’ her long

fingers and I remember Geneva, how

‘here, I’m trying to explain.’


After we packed the mule & positioned

the felled old things, brought the lace


in that quiet, constant scene, leaning this

way about the smooth, thin body

through the door –

‘What good,’ we continued, with used calico

pantalettes, smooth prim braids

and steps

down with the smell rising like

music – only, ‘stillborn,’ and complete

only, ‘that’s a fact.’

‘Now you,’ Lafeyette said something, ‘quit that

now,’ & we passed the pasture gate –


are you,’ through John’s eyes, & it looks

back at me, fading, at that broken angle, that

cat’s eyes do.

Doog Wood © 2008