Robert VanderMolen

The Glacier
Issue One
Fall 2022

During Spring

Robins and flickers, an occasional cardinal,
Robbing what’s left of the red fruit of sumac 
On the downslope to the pond

My nose runny like a six year old’s,
A cut on my hand, the sky terse

In my dream San Francisco was shaped differently,
More colorful, resembling an Asian city

But I couldn’t find my old neighborhood,
The cross-street, the theatre next to a bar 

And where did I park my goddam car?

***

After he retired he confessed to his older sister
That he’d been an assassin for the Army

She thought it was whiskey talk
Until he began to weep, his plain face

Twisting into an old-days catcher’s mitt

When he died they played bagpipes in the cemetery
The wind whipping off Lake Michigan

Across marram grass and through the cottonwoods

***

A kid, famous for winning spelling bees in school,
Went on to become a welder, a wide guy,

A friend of my sister’s, he liked to query me about art,
One day he bought me an Irish coffee at the Tip-A-Few
 
Across the harbor. Turns out he’d been contemplating
A route to becoming a professional sculptor

Have his work in public parks and so on

I regret my ambivalence

***

In other regards, I’ve been rereading
Raymond Chandler, the journals of Lewis & Clark,
Basil Bunting

But where the hell is Montaigne hiding?

Re

Quivering raindrops over the side window
While she drove wearing an elegant car coat

As if we were traveling through a land
Of castles and glistening canals…

Except I knew her when she didn’t own
A simple raincoat or even an umbrella

Much less a BMW with heated seats

Her shiny knees sitting on a boulder
Beside a stream I was fishing, our tent…

Yet enough of that. Her hair is now
Auburn, ears tucked away

And she’s thinner, while I’ve been
Inching in a contrary direction

*

At her home the sky was surprisingly fair,
It was warm, cicadas jigging…

She pointed out a tree with fruit dripping,
The mulberry of youth, or life, I don’t recall

Precisely, something my mother used to say
That sounded sage, with me covered in juice

Hardwoods roaming the distance
As we sat on cushioned lawn chairs

Sipping iced tea with liver pate
On squares of some kind of bread

Slightly bitter—I meant to ask

Her house looming behind us

Yet her equanimity was comforting

*
Then she mentioned that her ex lied
About his lies, cheated on everything

Until his business went belly up 
Like a pike in a small pond

Said he moved to Oregon, where he was
Arrested for fraud, she didn’t know

How or what, didn’t care. Maybe he grew
Terminally mad, she said, or ended dead

I made my money the old-fashioned way, 
She continued, I inherited it

The Pundit’s Novel

While the din of conversation grew louder
He felt a desire for another bloody Mary,
Scratched the back of his hand
Where the burn had nearly healed…

Our author pauses for water,
Gazing at the light vinyl wallpaper,
Is reminded of a neighbor who mowed
His lawn in a white suit

Bob wasn’t amused,
On the other hand, what she remarked about demonstrators,
Lowering her voice so he had to lean closer,
Made a certain amount of sense…

Our author wanders to the window to gaze at deer
Munching apples he threw this side of the fern brake

His heroine stripping to her waist to wash
Under a smoky moon

The settlement, through lacy branches, is stretched out
Below her. How can I make her more believable,
He wonders. He feels like he’s 13 again,
Standing alone outside the thunder of a college stadium 

Leaves nipping his ears

Wondering if he’d ever be as important as his father

Summer Solstice

That morning I found a walleye
Flopping in grass a few feet from shore
Had it leaped chasing a chub?
Had an eagle lost it?
It didn’t appear to be injured
As I managed to flip the fish 
Over the edge of sand and gravel
Where it hesitated in shallows
Looking at me or maybe the sky
Before dashing into deeper water

Everyone needs to be desired,
Said a woman on the radio
Advertising something. My wife
Wondered why I didn’t keep the fish
Such a large one for dinner

Didn’t seem fair, I said

   * * *

Meandering along Morgan Mills Road
Where sugar maples on either side
Are dying of old age, I was thinking
That when I look in the mirror these days
I don’t see my father, but rather
My grandfather, who’s massive nose
Reminded me of a strawberry
When I was a child--but no, not that,
The spacing about
The cheekbones and eyes

  * * *

Otherwise:

          A black police boat veering
          From the channel towards
          A community jetty—
          Oil and spit,
          Says a thick man with beard,
          Hatchets and wind, says another

          
* * *

Flowers droopy from drought,
The breeze producing a patter
Of green apples from a scraggly tree
Along the property line, the clothesline
Less than taut

A man alone is in bad company, I said,
She turned, that doesn’t sound like you…
It’s what Paul Valery wrote, 
I read it somewhere,
The line has been swimming
Through my head like a Bible verse

ROBERT VANDERMOLEN‘s last collection was Skin. He lives in Grand Rapids, though would prefer Hawaii.


Artwork by Austin Veldman.
© The Glacier 2022. All rights reserved.