At Rockford University,
in an upstairs lounge,
a poetry reading takes place.
The poet ignores the itch
upon the bridge of his nose
and forces his right hand down.
His words echo off the walls.
They jump on the couch with orange cushions.
They rock the lampshades.
There are no bodies to absorb
the report of his strident voice.
No ears to take in his pastoral descriptions.
This is not practice.
This is not a man in love with his own voice.
You cannot see his poems are a tool for letting go.
How each word tethers a time and event
and releases little pieces of the trenches
outside of Petersburg into the air.
But it is his descriptions of Appomattox
with its surrounding farm fields on rolling hills,
its oak and hickory stands
that he focuses on in his search for peace.
An inner peace where the wars that divide him
come to a gracious and generous close.
As his eyes move as if the room were full,
he catches sight of several mourning doves,
landing on an oak branch outside the window.
He takes this as a sign
and lets his voice dwindle and settle
onto the polished floorboards.
copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney