Letting go. The dog races ahead of me, disappears at the hill’s crest. Cars pass, their engines audible for many miles. In a pine bough somewhere, cardinals sleep a fitful sleep.
Rabbit tracks, deer prints, hollows in snow banks where yesterday the wind nestled. While you sleep, I walk, and mount incomprehensible stairs to an end I can no longer imagine. That which is beyond – or before – the possibility of change. One or two stars visible near dawn demand something, or seem to.
In my dream you urged me to try harder and it was many hours into waking before I remembered to ask a blessing upon you. Solar roofs mostly paid for by the government. In another snow bank, a few tresses of green, likely frozen. There is a relationship between wanting and time, one that we must address.
Yet I cannot stop longing for your notes, even now. Contrails fill the sky, sunlight peeks in from behind clouds, and biology proceeds apace. Letting go even more. In New Hampshire, the old queen perfects her melodies.
Thus fear, thus this. If we meet, will we discuss sentences? I cannot bear your worldliness. How white and pure the moon is when one looks at it alone.
There are stains on my glasses which blur my vision and so I take off my glasses. It does not snow. One walks with the dog, concentrating on each step, as if it mattered. When you are here I am happy and when you are not, I am filled with longing.
Delicious longing. A light snow dusted the manure, the chickens stayed out all day, carrying on about who knows what. Lately, I have become obsessed with the movement of horses. The movement of what is internal?
Rhyme is a sort of movement, as is guilt. She drank tea instead of coffee, picked at the cantaloupe and said at last that a clean sharp break was needed. I do not miss you when you are not here because I know that my awareness of you will always return. It’s like radios, in a way.
It’s like growing up thinking that you’re powerless and then all of a sudden somebody asks for a favor only you can give. This writing, this way. A few days without food, a few days of watching each breath, and then one rises instead of topples into language. I miss you.
The same preponderance of crows, the same romantic mourning doves. My sisters rarely enter the poetry, which is only strange when you try to reason it out. My hands trailed across the whale’s slow-drying body and my brain insisted on gratitude, which made no sense, and even now I can’t stand writing it. What observes what ends goes on.
Socrates didn’t start off Socrates. The first cause remains mysterious even now. We can sit together by the side of the road not talking for a thousand years.
A horse and a dog are roughly the same? We stand at the river’s edge and laugh with Heraclitus. Flakes of snow, slow-spiraling stars.
This morning’s moon was so lovely I almost cried and even changed the walk so that I could see it steadily through the trees so soft and yellow and – forgive me – so loving. The dog is silent too. A sort of blue pervades the dusk, forever a recollection.
If you want conflict you’ve got it. Chocolate? I floated like an indifferent balloon, dreaming of Paris, forever recalcitrant.
Forever a mendicant? Hesitation is his style as is calling it a style. I poured myself out and was left with an empty container which scared . . . who?
She woke to cats, made tea and we talked about speech defects. A thousand miles away, awaiting a storm. Your rose, my voluminous correspondence.
I mean that he asked a question and made space for the other to answer. You have to see that what you thought was love is not and then it starts.
Rye bread sold by the pound, lathered with cream cheese. One remembers looking at a steep hill in medieval Europe – the crystalline clarity of blues and greens and whites against the relative absence of soldiers – and thinks, how do I remember that? So much is carried in the barrel of the skull, it is no wonder we are imbalanced.
While earlier, walking where the trail becomes icy, I realized I had lost track of the dog while listening to wind, and in that moment slipped and only just righted myself and a moment later the dog raced by breathless. Yet more correspondence in the face of which one is pleasantly troubled. The light fails and we light candles and something somewhere is happy at last.
We are ready at last to answer the fundamental question. Sneakers, underwear and a bible all thrown together in a corner as if somebody – me? you? – was in a rush. Traffic is always going somewhere or you can see it that way if you want to.
Some books I can no longer read even as my capacity to write flowers – flows – the way bluets in early summer accept the breeze and testify on its behalf. She wants to write about prisms – that particular symbol – though she’s not ready to hear about it yet. Sliced tomatoes and thinner-sliced pickles from the cellar help.
He couldn’t resist saying hello but didn’t stop to talk, which together witnessed the loneliness we all know so well. One observes again the way water freezes, tracing impossible but recognizable blossoms over and across each pane. He died nobly but not easily.
What difference matters most? For a long time we fussed about the answer until at last – like immigrants facing a harbor – saw there was no time and so got on with it. You are that to me and thus I thank you.
Kindness is not a privilege but the expression of it can be. The brook, unhindered by so much snow and ice, beckons as God the weary traveler, the dogless son.
You aim away from “supposable.” My word. Slipping on the ice, going farther than usual, soft clouds drifting upward through the trees a comfort.
In my dreams, both students and teachers, and clarity on the artificiality of most social engagement. In prayer, one sees the futility of the brain, and the possibility of putting it to the side. We are not what we eat.
For you, this sentence, shared with me. One avoids the library in order to defamiliarize familiar texts. I don’t ever want to talk about my father.
Resistance to order somewhat undone by numbered paragraphs. In the sphere of real attention, we are neither ugly nor beautiful. A thin layer of ice wrinkled by passing breezes.
Well, we are all going all along, it’s only a question of time. Nobody “fits” but not everybody is ready to admit it. One is forever following a sloping road, one is forever working to accept it’s just a dream.
Be aware of what flows, aware of what hinders, and direct your energies thuswise. Remember that used bookstore in Boston, kissing in the far corner, so happy to be so far away from home but together? Tea, not coffee, was the mode.
There are themes in the human face and we never quite escape them. As this beckons, that necessarily follows.
Are we getting ahead of ourselves? Some things hurt.
The waves rise and fall, the folds open and close. The universe as a giant origami swan leaves me smiling when much else can’t.
Don’t think so much! The letters show up and go out, show up and go out.
Who loves the sea? We are walking together in the shadow of a mountain our fathers both climbed.
The horse pulled back rather than cross the little brook. She giggled after, as if we’d been telling jokes.
Coffee, serious books, and later writing. How can I explain this yearning for a typewriter?
We are what we love. The magic of geometry, say.
The landscape of a poem? Your drum interferes with the melody I am hearing.
One longs for a certain quality of mercy. Or else follow the sheep behind the barn, numb to the smell of blood.
I enjoy chess even though I always lose. Oh and remember chasing each other after Saturday mass, how sweaty we were, and how you said quietly that your father was calling, and how when you left I stayed behind the church a long time, confusing as always sadness and love?
The one hour in which I can bear to hold you has now passed. She steps up from the basement, her granite lips arranged in a smile. Gratitude is forever the operative mode.
We travel west, stop to visit, and keep going until we reach the sea. It’s not the city but the country in which the city is, she said, and that made me smile. Tired from so much physical labor, I fell to my knees and cried hard.
You miss the dead dogs, so what? A certain slant of light indeed. Death comes knocking and you answer the door and are surprised at such a familiar grin.
Join me in my rowboat, won’t you? The beer goes down harder and harder, as the light in the window fades. Thus life for one who fears the grave.
Believes he ought to shave? He came out to say if he wanted visitors he’d have a goddamn sign out thank you very much. And yet later – after soup and over whiskey – he became tipsily eloquent and we ended up as friends. That quality.
The lights from the hotel beckoned but I kept driving, intent on Saint Louis, where we’d fallen in love, as if the site of anything mattered. We are all asleep, we are all dreaming Emily’s dream. The robin smiled and it didn’t feel at all like a betrayal.
For you this sentence. And for you, this promise not to go until you’re ready to be alone.
You can only read so much. One surrenders Heaven in favor of yet another sentence. When I sit down to write, I think of you.
When I sit down to write, I prefer to face North. Email instead of prayer was surprisingly effective. One thinks of him in his VW, smiling at cashiers, but not speaking.
Soon enough the invitation will come and you will have to choose. We spent hours at that bar, just talking about what we would do when winter came, but when winter came you were dead and I was living in another town. Only once in a back seat and to this day I regret it.
The cat turns to look at her as if surprised. We can always go home but underestimate how much we appreciate exile. It does have to do with that certain slant of light.
I should shave. You should learn how to use that camera or we’re going to have to rely on memory. Are you reading this?
Are you reading this? The you I have in mind is never you, because I am always specific. And yet.
In the train station I paused, struck by the reasonableness of English-speaking haiku poets. And bend to kiss you and straighten happily.
Is it safe to talk about the pheasants this way this time? One lives with difficulty between so many secrets, such radiant light and the always shifting extremes of silence. Our hunger for God is not God though one wonders, doesn’t one.
When, I wonder, will the word scavenger enter? Ribs of horses, the repetition of lust. One ascends the tendril ladder, one is forever looking back.
Remember that night in Austin when you draped your socks – unexpectedly, even (looking back) boldly – across the chair where I wrote and in the morning I thanked you for bringing poetry back to me and . . . She comes wearing a ragged brown sweater, reminding me of a cemetery in upstate New York. Endings, always endings.
Yet the other night while out walking I felt again the quiet joy that from time to time attends all travelers. Passing the sign to Memphis and deciding this time no. Photographs help, and whiskey sometimes too.
The forsaken beckon and the lost croon and we stand in spindly grass just off the road home, falling again for the same old pain. Take this heart and don’t return it, not even when she asks. In other words, what is this you and I?
Recalling old dogs – and exhausted from so much shoveling – I fall weeping. When he said whiskey what he meant was Jasmine tea. When it comes to you you want to say no . . .
It has to do with how they move together in bracken, how seeing them consoles an antediluvian loneliness. As in, if you tell me you read this, then yes.
With you, even biology is just a thin shade behind which the soul rests delightedly. Would you like another apple? At last, one wakes up and a fundamental declaration begins.
You cannot plagiarize the necessary ascent. Who says reality is independent of the existence of God? In the clouds, a voice, and in the voice, a thread of familiar song.
Freud and Shackleton share a room in Heaven! At long last one gives up on lists. Here, where time exists for no other purpose than to learn that it does not exist.
Would you lie for me? All morning drinking tea from a dented thermos, remembering the Buddha’s admonition to return love for anger, and wondering how Dan is over there in Paris or maybe Tehran. Joe is leaving soon so be sure to say goodbye.
My dogs would follow me into hell if such a trip were possible. A life framed by Dickinson’s lines briefly reaches a perilous height. Melodrama was made to inspire an exaggerated focus – so a useless focus – on its maker’s motives.
I keep going back to that third sentence and wondering what it means. The bravery of Socrates was meant to be witnessed, hence this piece of writing. What does will do until it won’t.
Now what? Now you measure yourself by what you surrender and see what remains amid scabby shadows rimmed with gold.