Rees Davis

Catskill Gold

A time brightens brilliantly
during the abrupt fall chill,
when the yellow maple leaves
reflect the sun in such a way
as to drench the air golden.

The golden fruition springs
as a sudden florid surprise,
as it coalesces at any time,
at dawn or the late afternoon
or in a certain density of haze

or out of a fine mist rising
refreshed after a rain shower.
I can barely let go of my breath
for the infusion of brilliance.
My gawk and gulp of golden

enlightenment strikes me
dumb, a dazzling blessing,
as though the halo of heaven
penetrates into every recess
of me with its pure golden tint.

Yet, baths of golden brilliance
usually fade all too quickly
with a shift of the trees,
the clouds or the shafts
of light rays, reminding me

that bliss is a brisk word.
Still, painters of the Catskills
minted the golden Catskill light
on oiled canvasses, extending
the golden moments for us all.


The patients from locked wards
at Brooklyn Psychiatric bussed
up to our clinic some weekdays.

There, they could cook meals
with the clinic staff and engage
in various arts and crafts, happily

related to their conditions, but
most sought out the corners
at first and eyed us as suspect,

fearfully standing stiffly attentive,
as if knowing something horrible
or terrible was about to happen.

I coaxed them into poetry with me
and afterwards we often mingled
in front of the common room TV.

My encouraging empathy loves
to draw the fears from people, so
they can write it out and let it go.

That afternoon, poetry proved
an improvement. The little bald
black man, who would shyly say

only the brand name of his drug,
flooded with feelings in words
that had warmed and informed

the hearts of all who had heard.
We gathered at the TV to see
the Challenger launch shortly

before they were to be bussed
back to their locked wards.
Well, you know the astronauts

died and the ones who believed
horrors and terrors would happen
were right back into their corners.


Open your hand, so I can
see your palmed lines.

I feel that you believe
you are crazy to do this.

Surely, your full hand coldly
or warmly gives you away

and you wish you wore
gloves or bandages.

Your fingers still curl a little
with latent reluctance.

Your strong and deep lifeline
makes you a true devotee,

but see, at this jagged break,
the power of life turns on you.

Power wants your partner
and your first born.

Power wants everything
you love to live for.

This line off to the side
is the small incision

where your emptiness
was removed. I imagine

because of the anesthetic
you do not remember.

Yours is a discreet stigmata
that I will keep silent about

at no extra charge,
returning the kindness

that you hand over
so freely.

About the Author

Rees Davis has lived in Woodstock with his wife Mei and son Wiley since 1991. As an undergraduate he took poetry classes with Donald Finkel, fiction writing classes with Stanley Elkin, and philosophy classes with William H. Gass at Washington University in St. Louis. Writing few poems or other creative works since becoming a psychologist and building a 20-year career in behavioral research, he has begun writing poetry again in November of 2006.

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