Later by Cheryl Baldi

LATER

We speak in whispers,
move in silence
from room to room, listen
to the oxygen’s steady pump,
moisture bubbling through the tubes.
Three days unresponsive. I sit with her
until someone else comes in.
Years from now I will remember
these moments, the counter
scattered with crumbs
from half eaten sandwiches,
the tide low, winds calm,
Cormorants still perched
motionless in a line
along the pilings.
At first they seemed an omen,
messengers from the dead,
but I will wonder later
perhaps they were something other,
mournful attendants,
or angels, their black
wings spread wide
against the late day burn.

*

Cheryl Baldi is the author of The Shapelessness of Water and currently is at work on a new manuscript, In the Golden Hour, Cormorants. A former Bucks County Poet Laureate and a graduate of the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers, she was a finalist for the Robert Frasier Award for Poetry and the Francis Locke Memorial Award. She has taught at Bucks County Community College, worked as a free- lance editor, and served as co-facilitator for community-based workshops exploring women’s lives through literature. She lives with her husband in Bucks County, PA and along the coast in New Jersey.

Five Poems by Stan Sanvel Rubin

Later

Later, love breaks apart
again and you have to try
to pick up the pieces,
even though you know you can’t,
even though you don’t know how.

Trying is a way of learning
what the pieces were in the first place
which matters because
you will see them again.

The consequences of not trying
last forever.

*

Listening After a Phone Call Has Ended

The space of connectedness is brief
the way time is on a clock

but both are also endless,
a shadow as the profile of a possible world.

Our words touched like lips.
I’m still listening.

In The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows,
this deserves a special place.

*

Fourth Grade

I never knew what to wear
not to be laughed at.
New kid, I never knew how to make
anyone like me, especially
the girl with auburn hair
who played a violin.
I watched her neck
and dreamed of being picked in baseball
anything higher than last.
But even when I showed them
I could hit a baseball,
they pointed out I wasn’t fast enough
and never would be.
I made two fists and didn’t cry.
The bullies, the games, the girl
were what I had come for.
I was learning being a boy.

*

Morning Coffee

Every time I think,
this is the time
to bring it up,
and I do, only to myself,

I see a ghost
across the table
reaching for coffee
in a familiar way

I would like
to ask the one
burning question
but I won’t

after all the years
not speaking
words we should speak
decaf or regular.

*

The best place

to start over
is where you were before.
Only you can’t find it.

Maybe your intentions
have changed
and that’s why.

Maybe it’s no longer
where it was.
How long

does it take
for a world to shift?
How long

can you care,
being
this lost?

*

Stan Sanvel Rubin’s poems have appeared in many journals including Agni, Poetry Northwest, Georgia Review, and others recent anthologies include Moving Images: Poems on Film (2021) and the Nautilus award winning, For Love of Orcas (2019). His four full collections include There. Here. (Lost Horse Press) and Hidden Sequel (Barrow Street Book Prize). Born in Philadelphia, he has lived on the north Olympic Peninsula of Washington for over twenty years.