#43 – Nucleus Accumbens by Liam Day
The State House’s gold dome crowns the low hill
the bus scales as it skirts the Common,
city spied through turning trees on the other side.
Barren paths criss-cross the pale grass.
The driver leans on the horn at cars parked at the stop
before the monument to the 54th Massachusetts Regiment.
Cars coming in the other direction idle, respond in kind,
blare at the unseen source of congestion down Beacon Street.
It’s clear we’re in a rush.
Winter’s first storm looms. It starts as rain,
streams like sperm down the bus’s steam-filled windows.
September’s weather flouts the equinox,
but October, skeins of geese flying
migratory routes in late afternoon’s dark sky,
swings between what was and will be, warmth and gloom.
Ancients tracked seasons by moon, stars,
the patterns of the prey they hunted.
They built monuments to measure in the light’s angle
the time to plant. Memorial and Labor Days
are arbitrary bookends only between which
was white once fashionably acceptable.
When we go home, the tide leaves on empty beaches
unbroken lines of seaweed. We sat on the deck’s
rail doing the crossword, sat shoulder to shoulder,
skin to skin, growing colder and colder.
Glowing like a cigarette, the sun slipped behind
the trees on the other bank of the inlet.
How long ago it seems. Still we rush.
The rare among us have a third eye
to perceive the concentric rings of the pond
from which we crawl out on shore.
Fourteen years from plaster cast to bronze relief:
black soldiers and white officer. Daily we pass it
without a glance, dodge tourists trying
to appreciate beauty and sacrifice between the SUVs,
reptilian brains flashing more, more.
Liam Day has been a youth worker, teacher, assistant principal, public health professional, campaign manager, political pundit, communications director, and professional basketball player. His poems have appeared at Slow Trains, apt, and Wilderness House Literary Review. His op-eds and essays have appeared in Annalemma, Stymie, The Boston Globe, Boston Herald, and The Good Men Project, where he is the Sports Editor. His first book of poetry, Afforded Permanence, is due out in December. You can follow him on Twitter at @LiamDay7.