The Sidewalk Remembers

It is spring,
but the cold sidewalk remebers
its icy white covering.

The sidewalk remembers the seasons, fondly,
as they crack and crumble its surface.
Tiny fault lines, the little cracks,
separate the sentimental sidewalk.

The sidewalk remembers generations,
the scrape of snow shovels,
hopscotch boards, dogs,
water gun fights that give way
to trick or treats.

In the autumn
the sidewalk is warm
from the vanishing summer.

The sidewalk remembers young lovers,
holding hands at the roadside.
Their passions running as hot and cold,
as the temperatures
the sidewalk remembers.

Nichole M. Dulin
original 1996, revised 2016

Cascade

Yesterday, while I stood in my kitchen,
deeply inhaling the steam
from the just-opened dishwasher,
that had, somehow,
transported me
into my grandmother’s kitchen,
I stared into the racks, breathing.
While my mind conjured the yellow tiles,
rock-patterned linoleum,
white metal cabinets,
and apricot preserves,
on a fresh Irish scone.

And in that moment,
I wondered. Somewhere,
in the whatever is Beyond,
was my grandmother also transported
on that blast of steam,
into my kitchen?

Could she smell the roast I made?
Could she see that we painted the kitchen yellow?
Did she notice her plate on the wall?

Nichole M. Dulin

Rock

Click meets
click.
Ticking away
bar hours
that move
like gentle lovers,
to an ungentle future
in a cold, but
sincerely
told lie.

Time introduces
then time reduces,
the differences,
all in the
pursuit
of more
time.

Pulled together
so tight, so close
they danced
and he chanced.
Time held.

Nichole M. Dulin
~1998

Itch

Today is a day
when I don’t feel enough.
Work today was a waste,
by days end the headache had settled in,
and I hardly even enjoyed the dinner,
which stewed in the slow cooker all day.

The kids went through their routines.
I let it happen without much thought
to the preciousness of time.

Today didn’t feel precious.
It felt ordinary,
like practical shoes, or
a scratchy sweatshirt
that you only keep because
it bears the name of a beautiful place
you once went.

Nichole M. Dulin

The Train

Train brakes
echo
in a river-run circle
around my world.

Do you hear the train?
Does it wake you as it sweeps
­.. its coal-filled path
…. around the Mon?

…… 49 cars
……….to each
………… engine

Had you noticed?

The ever-present Conrail symbol
.. smiles at me

…. 50 times,
…… 100 times,
………. or more.

Then, at night,
when the train rumbles
through a thick valley fog,
.. do you watch for the train
…. that you can only hear?

Nichole M. Dulin
1995

Lottery

“I don’t know much about being a millionaire, but I’ll bet I’d be darling at it.” —Dorothy Parker

I spent part of the week spending lottery money
Like so many people do on snowy winter days,
when the pot climbs and the thermostat falls.

Curled up with the cat
thinking about the age of the cars, the mileage,
the traveling I haven’t done.

They’re different dreams now than the were
ten or fifteen years ago.
I don’t spend time fitting the houses and boats,
buying extravagant gifts for family and friends.

Now I think how the winners end up—
stripped bare by the change,
inundated in a wave of sadness,
unmatched by ability,
untempered by time.

I think of lawyers, financials advisers,
annuities and investment accounts.
How I would protect
and it hardly seems worth dreaming any more.

But I still bought a ticket.

Nichole M. Dulin

Octopus Growls

I just learned, todayoctopus
while perched on a stool
waiting
for enough time to pass
for enough fun
before I could soap down, rinse, and dry
a smiling toddler
Today I learned that an octopus growls.
Today the yellow fish is,
definitely,
a green fish.

Today,
she is too small to fly.
Today,
she needs wings,
like a butterfly.

Today,
while I’m impatiently waiting for tub to drain.

Nichole M. Dulin

Grieve now

You should have it out now.
Mourn, keen, cry—
whatever it takes.

When Steinbeck killed him,
you didn’t know it was coming.
Though he did it eighty years ago,
the mercy is fresh
(the murder is fresh).

That’s how it is now, for you.
This news, this death is fresh,
though the body is cold,
the pain still pulses.

Nichole M. Dulin

Digest

The trouble with reading poetry, is that poems are very filling.
After consuming each, I feel very much,
like I do on Thanksgiving.
A little tired
overstuffed and contemplative
a little sick,
as though I cannot take on any more.

A novel is not the same.
A novel is a bucket of popcorn.
I’m not full until my greasy fingers
brush against the cardboard bottom.
I seem to have unlimited capacity to take it in.

A memoir is a salad. Healthy.
Diverse and tasty. Both dense and juicy.
It requires decisions and takes time to
take it all in.
I finish satiated, proud of my good decisions.

But a poem is a full meal, in a short sitting.
I don’t have room for two.
When it’s finished, I wish it hadn’t been so fast,
that I had savored more.
It takes time to digest,
to nurture,
to become mine,
to energize this body, heart, and mind,
to become something new,
here
inside.

Nichole M. Dulin

Running

Each footfall feels like a heartbeat
Alone here in my head
Silent along the shoulder
Morning air

The beginning is all noticing
Breath, shoes, clothes
Sound, feel, fit
Ankle, feet, arms
Stiff, roll, swing

Next is taking in the world
The round barn I never notice
Behind the house that has always been there.
The way the old dog rises slowly
To watch me halfheartedly
The cats that startle
The birds that don’t

Then it’s all thoughts
Ticking off the day
The to-do’s
The yesterdays
Yesterday’s yesterdays

Until it all clears away
And the footfalls return
Longer now
Loose, but tired
House getting closer
But not as close as wishes

Nichole M. Dulin