- First Communion, and: There Was a Time, and: Summer Questions, and: Stars of Desire
Another guest has departed and we are left
with the backdrop of another day,
left to carry out the remains of July.
One or two days strung out before the clouds
clear and we can begin to see the sun again
in a new light; cicadas’ buzzes imminent,
not yet salient to the ear, but expected enough
for me to hear them in the mind. I raise
my screen to get a better view of the lake,
cornflowers and day lilies in the hazy,
muggy afternoon—as if an unimpeded view
of the outdoors could offer me
something I hadn’t seen or heard before.
All for the purpose of giving me
that little extra umpf of inspiration
like a good cup of strong Vienna-roast.
And here I’ve come again to see if I can
make that seminal commentary, that communal
graft which both describes and sets the stage
for what is to be described later,
when hummingbirds and helicopter leaves
are just an image from the past and yet
a vision of what is to come. Like seeing
the still lake from far away, such as where I am,
and recognizing its resemblance to itself
in the midst of a fierce, mid-winter freeze.
I suppose I’m still making stabs
at attaining that transcendent experience,
ever since my first holy communion,
a wafer-taste emerging on my tongue
as I write, mixed now with a straight-forward
mocha flavor, no cream no sugar, unadulterated
adulteration, pure as can be. But that’s
how we always start everything it seems,
waiting and waiting until we can’t
see another way out, a few confessions
and blandishments along the way and then
it’s all over. The baby wakes up, the phone
rings, and what with the diaper and all.
And before you know it the buzzing
of reality has stopped and your eyelids
are closing ever so slowly. A black spider
crawls up one side of the door and then
the other before it reaches the top,
where it continues steadily along its path,
rightside up for now, and you breathe
a long pleasant sigh of relief in your sleep.
Can I imagine a life without them?
It is the anger I would miss.
How wind can come upon you as you
picture yourself in the fall,
standing in the middle of an apple orchard
with your hand outstretched for the
last time of the day, and suddenly
the entire summer’s complexion has changed.
They are the incompletions, lying awake
at night and picturing the purity
of an imaginary planet’s skies. They are
the lies that make up the thin tissue
we think of as skin and July’s grass
and purple loosestrife. They are evenings
in early August, the sun’s last light
stretching itself pink and reluctant
over the orchard’s high straggling limbs.
Trying to make it appear so natural.
There Was a Time
There was a time when what I wanted to say
came to me unhesitantly, the ease
not so much in how it was to be phrased
or what words to use, but in the faith
I had in the foundation of sayings.
Like in a dry spell as a boy when I could
stand at the bottom of what was a small pond
and look down at all the cracks that marked
where patches of earth the size of large
sea turtles had separated but could be
reunited in a nice common rain. The slightest
smell of it in the air and I could imagine
again the catfish scanning the silt,
my hook down there being dragged around,
drawing attention to itself as a squirming,
nourishing morsel. But even the patches
of earth themselves were refreshing
in their own way, the way you could leap
from one shell to the next, large as continents,
and then pause and look up just in time
to see a player piano-shaped cloud drop its
tune trippingly from the sky, the beginning
of a long, large-dropped, shirt-soaking shower...