Five Points, Vol. 3 No. 3

Spring / Summer 1999

From Frederick Busch, “I think a story tends to take a moment out of time and preserve it. It’s the moment at which either the reader and/or the characters or a character sees a truth about themselves, or feels a truthful feeling about the character.”

Sample Content

Ann Townsend
Love Poem, Unwritten

My neighbor moving earth
on a cold day in August:
he has reamed a hillside
of shrubbery and tubers
and is filling it back up
with imported dirt. Until midnight
he swivels the rented earth-mover
and swears, and the engine
cuts through our conversation
like a dull persistent knife,
not going anywhere, not going
away. You want me
to write a poem to prove,
once and for all, my love for you.
In the sudden stillness
we hear our neighbor,
stumbling down from the tractor
and stabbing at the dirt
with a rake, or a shovel.
Something keeps me
from saying the words.
Could it be, I want to joke,
a genetic inability, my cold blood
clotting at the heart?
Then the stutter-start
of the earth-mover reminds me
of the night in the stalled elevator,
our first kiss, when my heart
jumped and skipped. The doctor
calls it “abnormality,”
just a mild cardiovascular
sickness. So I’ll keep it
in reserve, shyly hidden
in my shirt pocket,
like a stammering letter to you
that I fail and fail to send.