I conspired and freed old Giles
from the nursing home where he'd spent all his life,
and we had worked our days.
The escape was madness gone sweet.
The open boat unhitched us from that lost place,
set us drifting.
He took in the liquid conversation
of oar and river,
and the mossy greens
which blended into dusk.
Mouth ajar, he bloomed before us
like the desert spectacle of cereus
waiting for the moth.
easy to the sights along the river:
his first cow, limpid-eyed and chewing
where fireflies threw glitter at the bank.
He batted twisted hands to make applause.
All those years he'd been budding,
wanting to wax white, to scent
a moonless night, July,
but needed a cool summer dusk,
fireflies, and luna moths.
and fluttered their hairy wings
around the half-dark
searching for nectar.
We knew this couldn't be forever.
so we kissed him, felt his beard
prick our cheeks,
Then gave him wine
and saw the beads of starlight on his brow.
We watched the night-blooming cereus,
a spiny tube of dingy green,
open in its single, strange awakening.
2River View, 1_1 (Fall 1996)