Big Back Yard by Michael Teig

The following is a poem from Big Back Yard by Michael Teig, published by BOA Editions, Ltd. in April 2003.

The Second Act

And now the evening settles like a giant body into a bath,
exhaling clouds and car-lights—coughing out birds.

After inspecting the windows for hours I tried the door.
Only boondocks grow here by the riverbank.

I will say it's cold. In the near dark
a dog makes a marvelous sound racing past.

One time I thought the things I love would fit inside a hatbox,
inside a quintet as they round a difficult corner

inside a T-shirt or a sentence.
They'd fit inside a station wagon then drive around for hours

just hoping for radio stations, hands like jibs out the windows.
One time it seemed as if our lives were shot from above

the shiny O's of our heads almost bumping
before rain edits out what's left of the evening.

Now it seems mostly landscape,
falling away like a parachutist in reverse

just the reliable stew of sky, something left by a plane.
That dot could be the companion I meant to know

it could be the Rockies or a kiss.
Once the world shrinks like this to a recognizable gesture,

a handshake, a pool-ball, it often slips out the door.
I'm trying to learn how to see this coming

that after someone says "bye" I'm supposed to hang up,
that once the lights go out there's not alway's a movie.


—Reprinted with permission from BOA Editions, Ltd. © 2003 Michael Teig.