Posts Tagged ‘past’

Beneath the Big Moon

I walk in the chill,
and the past
walks beside me,
smooths my tears,
holds my hand,
faithful as evening,
gentle as a shadow.
By the time
I re-enter my home,
it has slipped
inside me again.
We walk through
the door
as one.

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Another part of me turns left,
and it is fifteen years ago
and I am driving to my parents’ new home
and my son and I will spend the night with them
because they live there and we can.
By the time I turn onto the highway toward home
it is fifteen years ago
and my father is sitting in his favorite chair
and my son curls into his lap
and dad tells him his ears are his mouth
and they laugh
and my mother and I make tea and chat.
And I am almost to the stoplight in Ridgway
when it is fifteen years ago,
and we go outside and make a fire in the pit
and sit in a half circle and sing camp songs
and snuggle because we are there.
And when I get home, an hour later,
it is fifteen years ago
and I am so full of their presence
and roasted marshmallows and
joy and loss that I lift my son
into his crib and kiss my father
on the cheek that is now ashes
and hug my mother now far away
then walk into the house
where my son no longer lives
and I have never been
so here.

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There comes a time when
the life you have
meets the life you once had
and you stare at that old life
as if it’s a beautiful bird
with a haunting song so familiar
you can’t stop yourself
from singing along.
Isn’t it strange
how quickly things change,
how already you’ve forgotten
some of the words.
How already, your wings
have changed color.

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I’m now going to dazzle myself with the pluperfect.

            —Jack Ridl



And isn’t it dazzling, the notion

that an action not only began in the past,


but was finished in the past, or,

as they say in Latin, it was perfect.


Not like these leaves, that began

in the past as green flags, but now


transform into gold flame. And we all know

what happens next. No, not like


the boy who once fit in my lap

and now looks me in the eye.


Not like the dream I had for my life

that changed before it could


be achieved. What really ends?

What do our cells not remember?


Even the dead are here in this room,

on the streets, in cafes. We carry


our history with us everywhere

we go, and it wriggles out of its


perfect cage and dances through the ending,

though we thought we’d shut the curtain,


though the director has long since yelled “cut,”

though the audience has already left,


see, here it is, even now, progressive

and as present as these cut sunflowers,


spilling their pollen all over the table,

hardening their seeds into future gold.

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I Tell Myself




Be like a river,

shaped by the past,

always finding

a new way

to travel

the same stretch.

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In a book that has not yet been written
the pages are already turning to dust
and a reader is pressing the petals of roses
from a lover she’s yet to meet and love,
and the lover is off in a forest somewhere
where the trees are all still seeds in the ground—
he is singing a song that’s not yet been composed
while he rides on a horse that hasn’t been foaled
and by now the reader is not the same woman
she was when she first began to read
the book and already her skin has been pricked
by the thorns of the rose she’s yet to receive,
and she’s singing the song he never sang,
she sings as if she knows the tune
from long ago, now how did that
old lyric go? She hums where she
forgets the words, something about
a man, a horse, a drop of blood,
a peace that has never and always been,
a woman who thinks she’s lost something,
but can’t remember what.

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But the Hot Summer Air Felt Just the Same

We went back to the old road
with the four-way stop and
the old white church, and the memory
of how to proceed unfolded block

by block and not a moment sooner,
but both of us knew that as much
as we had found our way back
past the golf course, past

the sagging homes with their eternal
garage sales and roses in dusky bloom,
past the drive in and the market
where we used to buy roasted chilies in fall,

though we were right where
we set out to be we can never
really go back, not even driving
as carefully, as slowly as we can.

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