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The Teacups

-- 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.