Poem II: When Life Changes (Feb. 14, 2000)

As Susan and I come up to our tenth anniversary, I thought that I would publish a bit of the poetry I have written for her over the years. Here’s one from 2000.

When Life Changes (Feb. 14th, 2000)

I walk the street, an empty figure,
with a dog,
in an early morning still life.
A pale shadow sneaks down the mountain
as the sun rises behind, turning fog pink in the valley.
Rays slowly find the summits of trees,
the peaks and ridges of Victorian homes, and finally
burst along streets like water ’round sand castles.
One falls on a car;
it sputters to life, coughs, and lumbers away.
Silence hangs like cobwebs
from the trees, heavy with dew.

And yet the city is never silent.
A faint drone of tires on a faraway freeway,
the low moan of the foghorn and the factory whistle
at the end of graveyard shift fly by
like an owl, leaving something noticed only in retrospect.
I wonder “was that. . . ?”
with nothing on which to hang the perception.

So it goes.
Water and light flow around, through, or finally over, everything.
Nothing evades them.
They are tearing away even the oak, still upright against the sky,
moving it into silhouette against the sun. Were the leaves just showing?
Already I cannot remember the oak.
My whole house, anchored against any eventuality, is sinking into sand,
green paint bleaching in the sun. Is the porch still on?
Already I cannot remember the house, and struggle for a sense of it.

I turn toward the mountain and the light falls on me.
I am blinded and illuminated: too many rays
flood my eye and my inner self lights up
like a dusty barn when the hay mow opens.
I am a figure,
on a patch of strange ground,
with a dog,
seen from the inside out.

I cannot remember when it changed.
Somewhere in the past other movements began.
You found me in that storm and helped me stand.
I did not flow away with the oak,
or sink with the house into the lagoon’s rich decay.
Life and love moved differently:
they bore against me, and carried us both away.

And here I am. Standing
with a dog
in the damp morning sun,
watching rays flow like water up the street.

We spoke and loved. I found you and helped you back to health.
You kissed me.
We became each other’s second self and love’s recursive goal.
You took me in.

Is that the way it was?
Or did the moment pass, like the shadow of an owl, and now
only disjointed perceptions remain like drifting sand
on the rising tide, soon to sink below the surface
while light and warmth come up on a new day?



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