November 2003

Tad Richards


Tad Richards Tad Richards' most recent book is Situations (Ye Olde Font Shoppe, 2002), a novel in verse, an epic for our time. His most recent interest is handmade illustrated books. He has illustrated Rachel Loden's Affidavit and Shelley's Ozymandias. For more information, visit his website.
Story    Click to hear in real audio

After Steven's wife left, he rarely
went out of the house, and for a long time
could not be said to play a part

in the story. She moved in with
her sister, but spent most nights
with her biker boyfriend, who cleared out

a drawer for her underthings. He loved
the wind, the way it skimmed his knuckles,
parted and reparted his beard, so it

was to the wind they gave his ashes,
after the crash. Updrafts took some,
the rest fell to the ground. She would have

liked to be the one to upturn the urn, but
she had no standing. She wore white
for the wind, and watched the rite performed by

his mother, a blonde of fifty, whose
liquor-stoked middle was not too thick to
be held, whose soft thighs still opened

like a gift, but the will to spread went
up in smoke and ash with her son;
she stopped drinking too. Steven,

for some time, had been making things:
at first explosives, fuses, blasting caps,
timing devices, tripwires, but lately

bird houses. They were functional pieces,
no mansards, gables, widows' peaks,
but a snug fit for songbirds, winter

finches, chickadees. The biker's mother
grew fond of rooted things. She planted
sunflowers in her hard-packed patch

of yard, and in the afternoon they turned,
phototropic, to her neighbor, the highway
patrolman, whose wife had been brought home

for her last days. Cancer of the spleen.
One night, the biker's mother comforted
him, and twice a week, a young nurse came

to his home, where she held his wife's hand,
adjusted her medications, sat with them as she
told them the truth gently, then went

home to her own nook, where she
wrote in a notebook. The young nurse had discovered
poetry, and it grew in her like mangroves

in a rain forest, macaws in the high branches,
toucans and keel-billed motmots, sloths dangling
from the low limbs, tapirs and capybaras on the ground.



Tad Richards: Poetry
Copyright � 2003 The Cortland Review Issue 24The Cortland Review