COMING HOME AT TWILIGHT IN LATE SUMMER
We turned into the drive,
And then we noticed the pear tree,
BRIEFLY IT ENTERS, AND BRIEFLY SPEAKS
I am the blossom pressed in a book,
found again after two hundred years. . . .
I am the maker, the lover, and the keeper....
When the young girl who starves
sits down to a table
she will sit beside me. . . .
I am food on the prisoner's plate. . . .
I am water rushing to the wellhead,
filling the pitcher until it spills. . . .
I am the patient gardener
of the dry and weedy garden. . . .
I am the stone step,
the latch, and the working hinge. . . .
I am the heart contracted by joy. . . .
the longest hair, white
before the rest. . . .
I am there in the basket of fruit
presented to the widow. . . .
I am the musk rose opening
unattended, the fern on the boggy summit. . . .
I am the one whose love
overcomes you, already with you
when you think to call my name. . . .
ALONE FOR A WEEK
I washed a load of clothes
and hung them out to dry.
Then I went up to town
and busied myself all day.
The sleeve of your best shirt
when I drove in; our night-
clothes twined and untwined in
a little gust of wind.
For me it was getting late;
for you, where you were, not.
The harvest moon was full
but sparse clouds made its light
not quite reliable.
The bed on your side seemed
as wide and flat as Kansas;
your pillow plump, cool,
and allegorical. . . .
The dog and I push through the ring
of dripping junipers
to enter the open space high on the hill
where I let him off the leash.
He vaults, snuffling, between tufts of moss;
twigs snap beneath his weight; he rolls
and rubs his jowls on the aromatic earth;
his pink tongue lolls.
I look for sticks of proper heft
to throw for him, while he sits, prim
and earnest in his love, if it is love.
All night a soaking rain, and now the hill
exhales relief, and the fragrance
of warm earth. . . . The sedges
have grown an inch since yesterday,
and ferns unfurled, and even if they try
the lilacs by the barn can’t
keep from opening today.
I longed for spring’s thousand tender greens,
and the white-throated sparrow’s call
that borders on rudeness. Do you know—
since you went away
all I can do
is wait for you to come back to me.
THE BLUE BOWL
Like primitives we buried the cat
with his bowl. Bare-handed
we scraped sand and gravel
back into the hole. It fell with a hiss
and thud on his side,
on his long red fur, the white feathers
that grew between his toes, and his
long, not to say aquiline, nose.
We stood and brushed each other off.
There are sorrows much keener than these.
Silent the rest of the day, we worked,
ate, stared, and slept. It stormed
all night; now it clears, and a robin
burbles from a dripping bush
like the neighbor who means well
but always says the wrong thing.
Why does this light force be back
to my childhood? I wore a yellow
summer dress, and the skirt
made a perfect circle.
Turning and turning
until it flared to the limit
was irresistible . . . . The grass and tree,
my outstretched arms, and the skirt
whirled in the ochre light
of an early June evening.
And I knew then
that I would have to live,
and go on living: what sorrow it was;
and still what sorrow ignites
but does not consume
Today’s LittleNip(s) by Jane Kenyon:
Be a good steward of your gifts. Protect your time. Feed your inner life. Avoid too much noise. Read good books, have good sentences in your ears. Be by yourself as often as you can. Walk. Take the phone off the hook. Work regular hours.
There’s just no accounting for happiness, or the way it turns up like a prodigal who comes back to the dust at your feet having squandered a fortune far away.
If it’s darkness we’re having, let it be extravagant.
Photos in this column can be enlarged by clicking on them once,
then click on the X in the top right corner to come back