Self-Portrait

Between the computer, a pencil and a notebook
my time passes. A half a century has just come and gone.
I’ve moved to other towns for love
and sometimes when I’m alone I talk
with strangers about matters that follow me.
I dream a lot: the covers of books, silverware tucked
inside black napkins on a table, the face of a woman.
I photograph nature a lot: the light slipping between
the trees and the night the ravens steal from the creeks.
I see three elements in nature: beauty, indifference, and survival.
The fourth is a voice that I cannot hear, only sense.
I read poets, living and dead, who teach me
tenacity, beauty, and pride. I like good red wine
and small galaxies of light that curves around it in its glass,
like a plum, red sun.
I like hockey and how each period
is a chapter that makes up an arc of a story.
I like to paddle on long, narrow lakes
and watch the jackpine fall over as if to play
a trick on the wind,
the way the bullfighter fools the bull.
And to see through the trees to the
end of the portage and the lake that
takes me to another.
I’m absent minded but I remember every sound
from every memory, and what it means.
Black birds rise and fall slowly in front of
my car just when I speed by.
I write with candles now so that I question
not how the flame dies out but the
nature of air in which I breathe.
I’m no longer young, but I think there is still time.
I like her against my chest, when we cease to exist,
and dark nights in a tent and white blankets of smoke
enlarging from the fire of birch and cedar.
Sometimes I understand, and ambivalence vanishes,
for example that sadness and loss is sometimes
the choice that you must allow to win you over.
I often gaze at her face.
I have not called my father in some time.
I have not spoken to my son in weeks,
thus proving my withdrawal and regret.
My country grew up slowly and tolerates
others more or less but its
spaces are wildernesses are a beloved.
I’m not a child of the air,
as Adam Zagajewski wrote about himself,
but a child of lakes, the adventure of a woman’s laugh
and men drunk and happy in a bar,
and not all the roads of the spirit
I’ve travelled on, and on those I did
I did not proceed far enough,
wanting always the physical.
I don’t believe in life after death but
I said once I’d be born again to
be with her, just to hear her laugh at that and
so that I could live again right there.
I’m a blind man who needs to touch.
For a long time, I thought I needed to be loved
but what I learned was that
I needed simply to love.

(after Adam Zagajewski)

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