exactly what comes next? maybe it’s Chicago within multiple trajectories of impatience and boredom before connecting and charging ahead roughshod you take a swing, fan, and fan again in this curriculum of revelations from Old Friends everywhere standing on some pebble-strewn base of a mountain, watching a squall line of religious tracts form in oppressive humidity how am I to know this will play Boston, this season or next? maybe I’ll score, ah, yes, and speaking of Hope, give her my greetings the big picture emerges one pitch at a time, here come the Sox . whoops
the one who pushed has a brain tumor on top of four or five years of chronic, debilitating, undiagnosed intestinal pain, only in her late thirties I agonize over how to respond, wanting to run up to the coast and bring her back where she would at least have someone to offer care, while from the green valley a letter saying another’s on the way to Old Order Mennonite (unless, maybe, I’d go into dairy farming? Nah!)
drawing on banked experience and earnings, I deplete the rotting woodpile of any past, my flaking barn filled with scorched ore, my private cemetery of flickering weeds all ablaze banked coals blown to life, all reduced to uncommon metal ingots of no commercial value after which I’ll no longer be gnawing lawn furniture out on the road but holed up, frugally assembling and polishing double-edged maps and chronographs to fuel industry with some fork into prophecy or political revolution or Elysium or celebrity-bashing iconoclasm, I won’t be spooked by the alchemy of regret except, maybe children
and now that Manchester isn’t quite the same the drive flew along trees past their prime yet beautiful in that chaste turning more shadowy and wintry the closer I got to home, a still full moon flirting with clouds during that final stretch of reggae beat back around to Worcester a few tears shed as I passed sparkling Baltimore in a twelve-hour trip taking a shade over nine but here they still haven’t fixed the dripping kitchen faucet
from an unspoiled spot on Maine shoreline I’ve watched seasons, storms and calms both within and without, eaten wild strawberries, collected shells and rocks and bits of weathered lobster pots (in Baltimore, I’d retreat to a stretch along the rapids of Gunpowder River north of Sparks) bedazzled with premature color extended with near-perfect cool an eye-opener with a predominance of red luminous fragile fields of blazing our clear windows of gold and copper branches finally die and fall away and are grieved so that the new vision may emerge
the mailman didn’t leave the stack in the hallway, as I had worried, but rather held it to give to me today (twenty-four pieces, which included one personal letter to me, from somebody amplifying on our Seventh-day conversation in North Carolina, or as he pronounces it, Nor’car’l’na, a personal letter to Iowa from another in Pennsylvania who must have his addresses mixed up, I’ll forward adding my own greetings; three magazines; my union newspaper; six bills; unsolicited junk including offers of wild credit lines if I accept more I’d be rich if I could reach the right country without extradition
so pleased entering my apartment to see everything tight, still in place, no vandals, though the temperature was 89 degrees, apparently the maintenance crew had come in and set the thermostat at 80 to get the radiators going and then left while ignoring repairs to one of those single joy-stick faucets that takes an eight-dollar washer kit to repair, I know, because the three-dollar one I bought had the wrong kinds of springs and plugs and doodads, and none fit
behind plaster we rip from the kitchen crumbling accounts of protracted death Floyd Collins 15 days 1925 age 36 Sand Cave Crystal Cave Kentucky as published in Boston, accounting inescapably cold mud and implacable rock when my own parents were first walking, yet this story my mother related as if she were on the carnival rides of its macabre vigil but now we find nothing holding this roof to the walls so much callous indifference riding on the blind arrogance a foolish turn, perchance, or just dumb luck when it comes to catastrophe of course, I remember living on the roof of a cavern down in muddy Indiana
what’s happened I no longer want to travel or climb the high mountains or is it just all the moves across the continent and back, my years on the road, my commute daily so stretched I’d contract into my nest and grounds for reading or revision, the places I’ve been and people I’ve known so many I want to know my own better . people come from all over the globe to see the landscape I call home
In past years, we’ve had Chinese college students stay with us during their term breaks. They were in Dover and nearby communities to work volunteer internships, usually a month long, and the New Hampshire Children’s Museum was a popular choice.
They would often bring a gift, typically fine green tea, but this one initially perplexed me until it was pointed out that it’s a holding cup for things like pens and pencils and is inscribed with four popular poems.
Cynthia later transcribed them, with translations in English.
She had no idea I am a poet, or that her gift would be so appropriate.
With the Chinese New Year on Friday, we’ll be thinking of her and the others who have brightened our household.