The storm that was a pause between things
Unmoving white sky, after two hours of sleep.
Like a view for the morning after you die:
No color, no sound. Only the rhythm of dogs
Breathing at the foot of the bed, those animals
To whom death, like life, is just passing weather.
The snow has fallen or is yet to fall but is not falling.
Two ages like thick glass tectonic plates
Clasped me as they passed against each other.
One an age in which I existed, the other
Where I was absent. I could not see
the difference. So little would change,
So little that had to happen for the morning
To come no matter what. That is when
The dogs left me. We are not alone in death
But we are alone in despair. Numbness coming
In from the arms and legs toward the heart.
The brain a battering ram turned inwards.
Then I slept. So many things we can’t control
That happen anyway. The memory of deer
in the backyard the dawn before. The deer
Themselves. The paths that brought them
To nibble at a birdfeeder the day before a storm.
Not the owl whose short questions are strung
On this line of dark hours like rosary beads.
Not the cloud’s cold eyelid closing over
The near-empty parking lot in each of our minds.
What drove you there and what were you trying
To buy on such a night when the moon arcs away
Like the last snowball you threw at a friend
You outgrew without knowing? They both faded,
They both landed somewhere beyond sight.
Not the short-tempered ladder to memory.
The night’s too wide to haunt. But for a few
Moments, it opened its eye to look at you
And swept across your life without noticing:
Who you missed, who you hit, how cold
Your hands were when it took shape.
And an idea drifted down un-owned
And clung to you like frost, an owl flown,
A string of prayers creased by doubt.
February still life
Rain. Which coastal town was I dreaming
last night we’d moved to where the rain
comes with a bookmark of the ocean
and the snow apologizes when it alights on dunes
with the sound of regret? The color of change
on change. Wrapping my head around how one
impermanence devours another
is like leaning on a dune fence:
its weakness is what makes it impossible
To climb or cross. Its effect is staying
In place in a place where no lines hold.
The horizon balances no books. Flat pasts
slide away, pages of undertow. Words too
late to change the page fall as I’m reading it. Rain.
End of January
No invitations left for it.
I am all outside now
Beyond any framework for this god of doors
Its first face is four years long
I am tired of looking through its road-salt eyes
The month’s mouth is a boy’s knee
Punctured by a splayed root
Its voice is a wrist shattered like ice
Its ears a bird caught in a basement
On the coldest night of the year
Its other face is a choice
Nobody saw coming
The winter rain is unhappy drifting against the window
It cannot come in it is too light to knock or ask
Beyond a whisper in the puddles which the mud steals
As its own only long enough for the steps to take it up
So we know whether the steps are coming here
Or to a there in a different direction going away in the silent rain
The snow though voiceless collects its silence upward
To visibility the shape of a voice without argument
This is the source of the grudge the steps carry away
This is why we are frightened as the steps come
From nowhere on a quiet morning when nothing
Should be arriving but the day a few minutes earlier
But here they come after the quiet winter rain
In the minutes surprised at how new the world is
seconds still falling like rain too soft
to cry out after slipping on a dream
Of ice on the heel of waking on these longer days
The days fall off the wall calendar
Like ice cubes from a tray.
Time applies the slightest pressure
And we’ll never know if it had more
Strength than that because it’s never
Necessary, the liquid days slow and
churn opaque and then click away.
When I was alone I used to spend the year’s
Last minutes on the roof, by the basketball
Pole in the driveway I’d shimmy up,
Grateful for family in the house below but
Not needing them to be grateful for everything else.
There was always enough space between
The stars for gratitude, no matter how cold.
Now, with my own family, I can hear time
Pacing back and forth on the roof, impatient.
I think about that garage roof in Rhode Island
Every year, but I no longer need to see stars.
December rain flowing
down the neighborhood hill
rising in the basement