Guest series by James Matthew Wilson. (Part 1)
March 17, 2020
We hear from news reports the young are out
Crowding the beaches, getting drunk as usual.
The brilliant images of sea and sand,
Which under normal circumstances draw
The mind to thoughts of pleasures so removed
From life they seem a floating of pure body,
Now crackle with invisible contagion.
A boy whose cheek bones are burned lobster red,
His eyes crazed with the margaritas sipped
Since dawn, brags loudly for the camera
He’s going to get his money’s worth or die.
I go to tour the decimated stores,
To find, among picked-over wares, some leavings,
And cart them home for breakfast. But I go
Mostly to marvel at the emptiness,
To see myself what mania’s wages look like.
The clerks already have things half restocked.
It is Saint Patrick’s Day. My wife has found
Enough corned beef and cabbage and potatoes
To feed the seven of us, evening come.
When the kids woke this morning, Ceci crept
Downstairs and found the living room a mess;
A chair lay tipped; a shoe hung from a lamp;
Yesterday’s paper lay in wrinkled sections
And mingled with a rift of stickered school work.
But there, amidst it all, beneath the couch,
She found the little green box she had made
To trap a leprechaun. Yes, he’d been here.
It worked. He left a pot of golden candies,
His messy tricks the price we pay for magic.
Well after dinner, when the plates are stacked,
A smear of mashed potatoes and thin ribbons
Of beef all that is left, so have we feasted,
I scrub the kitchen, sipping pints of stout.
Then, Ceci asks to watch The Quiet Man.
I’ve told her that a leprechaun is in it,
Which, should you see small Flynn, his pointed ears
And plotting smile champing on his pipe,
You’d know is true enough, although it’s not.
The kids love every minute. From his bed,
I hear James humming out its bouncy theme.
Some young man on the news sings his odd tune,
Later that night. He’s cleared out all the stores
For three states of their cleaning wipes and Lysol,
Their rubber gloves and soaps and who-knows-what,
All which he’d planned to sell online for gold.
He almost brags about it and I wonder
How long it might take till he meets his fate
In some strange accident that no one sees,
Save for a darting swirl of faerie lights
That rise on air and vanish in the gloom.
And in the days that follow, Ceci wakes
Before us all and sneaks downstairs in search
Of candy in her trap. She wants him back,
Her leprechaun, and cries to find him silent.
Then, tricks begin to overtake the house:
My dresser drawers left open like a staircase;
A glass of milk hid in a closet; toys
That had been put away clumped on the rug.
“The leprechaun is tricking you,” she says,
To have his golden presence back by cunning
Though it’s denied by time’s too punctual magic.
-James Matthew Wilson