I am fifty this year,
after Christmas, the late buds
assemble their small hooves
in the wind of the dead season.
The Mennonites with their black horses do not walk
out into the uncovered fields,
or step over their roots tarred in muddy flesh.
We cannot love whom we must,
yet cannot imagine another;
the earth is wrong for this place.
A love once blinded me
to see differently,
a blindfolded sight
of warmth and light.
From the window, the dogs are barking,
at nothing, really, not a woman crossing the road,
or an animal, a fox, say, that comes in from the fields
by the highway, that sometimes sleeps in the shed
(the mutts always smell it),
with the machinery.
I look a little too long, there’s less and less.
Except for the overgrowth sharpening into
spools of wire and foothold traps,
the cornstalks gutted on the plains,
the cellphone tower possessed by voices,
and the street lamps where each night
crowns of light are crucified, I regard only
their instructions for departures.
So, if I could bark with them, that is what
I would start to see, what I don’t,
runways where things go where they go.
And, I would hope, too,
I’d find a way to chase away the fox
that sneaks back nearly every night,
that’s there, camouflaged by
the invisibility of things that will not expect
to be found.
I will need to change
my life again. For this
woman, how she leans
on the black chair,
as if she had always been
a girl. The dry creek of
the naked feet, both have
together from a shallow river of sun.
And spearing through
her hair, a birthmark,
like a reflection
of an arrowhead,
leaf bruised with cold,
but pale, as if
she had been painting,
in case winter
was coming again.
I could write a poem about my boots,
or the wool gloves I found
in the glove compartment from last winter.
Or, I could write about the extra blankets
from the closet, on the unmade bed,
or the cupboards where I hear mice
above the heat of the furnace
that climbs the strange frozen rivers in the window.
I could describe the broken moon
lighting nothing but the films of road
beneath the dislocated shoulders of trees.
I could add some lines about the cell phone tower
in the field, and the tiny light blinking on my phone,
and I could compare them to a plane,
or, this thought I’ve left unsaid. I could
talk about the words, and then my life.
– ph 15/12/16 (Jerseyville, Flamborough, Guelph)