-- for Peter Siedlecki
By Jennifer Campbell
My three rhododendrons bloom at different times-
a rising, whirling trio like the teacups ride at the fair.
I can't predict when the sagging leaves will turn
like your soft eyes stroking the ceiling for the best
slant of light. I used to ask you if there were ghosts,
half-convinced your newborn eyes could out-spy
my own. Maybe this story will make it into your poems
one day, back turned against teenage years, challenges
of a boy burdened with parents' doting hindsight,
and we'll read our poetry together in a building
no longer so green, where I envision you now.
Without his better half, my friend sits wilted, jowls
weighted with winter. I don't pay much attention, greedy
for my fantasy company. Ghost who never leaves
my sight, oh flower constantly blooming.
The kids here, even the bright grad students,
only write generalizations, can't settle their pens
on a single concrete image. They don't recall amusement parks,
the hard plastic shell of the ride. The hot black wheel
their fingers smeared white with each turn.
JENNIFER CAMPBELL will read from her work on at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 7, at the Just Buffalo Literary Cafe at the Center for Inquiry, 1310 Sweet Home Road, Amherst. Her first collection of poems, "Driving Straight Through" was published in 2008 by Foothills Publishing. She is an English professor at Erie Community College North, where she was just awarded the 2011 SUNY Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities.