Endings by Christine Jackson

Endings

The past drags across the sky
And snags on treetops;
The air smells of rain.

You stop the car at water’s edge;
A toxic canal flows between two berms,
A grim overlook of what we used to be.
You dared to call this morning,
And I answered;
We wait together
As signatures gather
To seal the end.
So here we sit,
Breeze and bluster,
Filling the car’s front seat
With silent recrimination.
A hubcap standing on edge
Gleams through tea-stained water.

On the far bank,
Palm fronds toss their manes,
Neighing to the wind;
Rain spatters the car hood.
Two ibis march in veiled white formality.
They grub for food on awkward, stalky legs,
Arced beaks scissoring after scraps.
Silver rivulets cross the windshield;
Bubbles pock the brown face of the canal.
Tossed on the wind, the birds flee.

We watch through the storm
As a crane uses its great bill as pincers;
Nuzzling into the grass,
It pulls up a garter snake
And wrangles out the rope.
The snake contracts its muscular line,
Shapes the “s” of a question mark,
Wraps once,
Twice,
Clamping around the crane’s bill.
The brainless crane head shakes to break the coils,
Ruffles the down of its body.
The snake unwinds,
And the crane dips the dangling strand in the water
To answer the question.
The bird head lurches,
Nibbles and wriggles,
Until snake gut touches vertebral gullet,
All its length.

Under the unclenched sky,
The water’s flat surface shimmers.
Ducks thresh among the prisms,
Feathers mirrored in the green water.
Shadows dissolve into clear lines,
But too late.
On the far bank
A pair of desperate pigeons
Bobs and pecks,
Lost among the errant weeds.

by Christine Jackson

Editor’s Note: Personification enhances the ruthless imagery of this poem. The end of a relationship is always difficult.

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