W. Luther Jett

Deferment; Count: Luther Jett

DEFERMENT

White petals drift
across the empty lawn —
sun’s arc bends.

That spring, I became
temporarily blind by choice;
doctors scoured my eyes with
lasers. Earlier I’d traveled
the Sichuan Highlands
during the Redbud Festival, seen
those tendrils of good-luck crimson;
and how wild rhododendrons
blanket mountainsides.

But I missed the peak
cherry blossoms in my home city,
then weeks of shadows followed.
“Next year,” I said. “Next year,
“I’ll walk the Tidal Basin while
“the breeze sends petal spirals
“cross the waters.”

And now next year has come
and with it, plague. The paths
beside the river are blocked.
Trees know nothing, save
that it is spring.

In my neighbor’s yard
a sapling blooms —
White petals drift
across the empty lawn

The March breeze carries
the closing tang of winter. Soon
redbuds will flower.

COUNT

Count everything. Everything.

Count the things you touch
when you enter your house
after a walk: The doorknob;
the lightswitch; the closet;
the hanger in the closet that holds
your jacket; the trim round
your closet door; the laces
of your boots as you untie them,
kick them off; this pen; this
tablet. Count everything.

Count the cardinals on the lawn.
Count the sirens you hear
far off. Are they coming closer?
Count the steps from one end
of this room to the other, and
count the number of times you
pace from one end of the room
to the other. Count
the number of breaths you take
in one minute. Is it over twenty?
Count the hours. Count the days.

Count the numbers
of people infected.
Count the dead.
Count everything because
everything counts.

W. Luther Jett is a native of Montgomery County, Maryland and a retired special educator. His poetry has been published in numerous journals as well as several anthologies. He is the author of two poetry chapbooks: Not Quite: Poems Written in Search of My Father, (Finishing Line Press, 2015), and Our Situation, (Prolific Press, 2018). A third chapbook, Everyone Disappears, is slated for release, Fall 2020, by Finishing Line Press. To read more by this author: "Recessional," The Wartime Issue, Vol. 7:2, Spring 2006.