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THE LITTLE TALK

                                 for Art Glaser, and Sundays after the Elko Gathering

Today the sky is middle-winter-blue;
the sun, snow white; the snow grown gravel gray.
The screen door opens, then comes-to
before the car is parked halfway.
“He’s resting now,” she says, stopped at the walk.
We hug, then stand out in the slush
and talk the little talk, the talk
that’s talked when silence says too much.
“It’s warm for February.” “Yes, it’s nice.
And how’s your wife?” “She’s fine, she’s fine.” We trade
small gossip — who’ve you seen? and what’s the price
of beeves? and how much hay was made? —
’til in the lull her eyes grow wet
while muddy snow melts clean and clear
and winter begs that we forget.

We came to dinner, last time here,
passed whiskey ’round, and one guitar,
then laid-up, dozing, on the couch
before the blinking TV fire,
conserving spunk so’s we could slouch
along the table once more, slow,
for one last coffee, one last pie.
Remember? it was late, but even so
it took all afternoon to say good-bye.

Today we laugh, but get it wrong;
she looks away, a leaf dried-up and curled—
and so we do not tarry long
but with the little talk we leave the world.

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