A boy, sitting in the back of the church,
does a magic trick in which the last rabbit
on earth disappears forever.
The minister, sounding like the lost soul
he is about to become, cries and laughs at the same time.
The mourners look at each other with such love
you know right away something is wrong.
The sun shines because it doesn't have a clue.
Truly the last moment is near,
but out of a kindness of which no one knew
they were capable, in the vestry afterward,
people only speak of the weather while they eat
the very last brownies. Meanwhile, outside,
where Main meets Clay, five women talking and laughing,
shake their delighted heads at seagulls flying
toward the sea as they will insist on doing
right up to the end. Two small dogs stick two small heads
out of one open car window. It is the day
the butterflies return in their hundreds
to our little town, stopping only briefly
on their way further south. Later, a woman goes out
for her usual run at dusk even though
she knows what she knows. It is not pathetic.
It is beautiful. Inside the coffee shop,
Main and River, one bearded black man,
and one clean-shaven white guy reach
for the cream at the same time. One planet,
too many stars to count, three small birches
barely visible in last light.
It helps, if you are seventy-seven, to feel shorn,
as an animal might feel shorn, unburdened
of its too-muchness. It helps
if you carry with you, like two candles to light the way,
two underlying conditions by which to see day passing
And it helps to listen to Beethoven's late sonatas.
We are merely the keys: a music beyond
our understanding plays us as it will.
That screened-in porch, not far
from the ocean: it is a summer night
and I am the small boy in the hammock
swaying back and forth, barely awake.
One of my grown-ups carries me inside
after I have fallen asleep. In the morning
it helps to wake to the sound of the waves,
not quite knowing where I am
or why I am there. To what now
do I truly belong? Shall I call them suffering
and joy, my two underlying conditions?
(Summer Solstice, 2018)
I did finally arrive. What a surprise:
not to sing the song of creation, but to be sung by it.
The pine trees smelling faintly of pine trees.
Shadows in all the right places.
Loneliness and oleander
vying for my attention.
Purple weeds in the long grass.
The smell of the linden trees. Crows and sea gulls:
all their dire warnings.
Meanwhile, the light goes on and on.