I can still look down the middle of Five Shillingsto where the trees diminish at far Mill Pond and see it will be later the longer their distance. And better now that it’s December,the leaves almost gone, the trimmed elm-like branching lifting higher toward the sun. I used to think that memory was like hallwaysat my Township Elementary School, with floor-to-ceiling windows at each end, the undulant oak floors so polished as to bless you,each graduated open classroom a welcoming through time. The mind loves metaphor, especially the odd-or-even ends of things, though looking downthe street at how the winter ornamentals line up like the past may not always satisfy imagination, while in the spoil of summer, in a sequenceof green moments, they may suggest the present more alive, it’s the long view, in the long run, that matters. Including the nice houses that like the treesalong the street also diminish in perspective, like those who live inside them, like us. Like the friendly neighbor walking toward the camerawho gets lost in all the shadow and bright detail, and if we could remember her young face, first name, let alone her heart, that might or might notbe enough to justify my childhood hallway poetry, its classrooms and star windows, and the patience with which we’d stand in lineafter a practice fire alarm, regardless of the season, then file back in to climb back up the worn but certain stairs to where the sunlight was waiting. [End Page 93]
Stanley Plumly is the author of four works of nonfiction and ten books of poetry, including, most recently, Elegy Landscapes: Constable and Turner and the Intimate Sublime (W. W. Norton, 2018) and Against Sunset (W. W. Norton, 2016). Winner of the Truman Capote Award and the Paterson Poetry Prize, among others, Plumly teaches at the University of Maryland and lives in Frederick, Maryland.