The space between two people never quite closes. That’s all right. It’s the rub of surfaces we need anyway, the slowbrush of hand on arm, the quick hug as we discoveran old friend has gone gray, that he’s reading on a hardchair in the back room, leaving most of the house to strangers.It’s all right to leave him there, maybe, to walk acrossthe red bridge and into the woods, travel the worn pathsin windy sunshine. Turning left each time will bringyou back. It’s all right, maybe, to explain that you won’tbe back till late, that you hope for coffee in the morning,for a small table upstairs to spread out your books and papers,most of which you won’t open before you pack up to leave.The space between two people can open like a net, collapse,dangle loose and empty, ready to catch and hold, to bind.
East Lansing, May 2003
If I really loved Jesus I would surely not be here in the sunshine.I'd be trying to love the poets now reading in a room without me.If I really, really loved I would not even think what I think,and it would go easier. Because my neighbors' dogs barkat dawn for sheer joy. Because like them I have known joy.I have matched and folded the family socks, survived historyso far, seen my small desires satisfied. Did I come all this wayto sit on a bench? Did the ragged goose feather once have a home?It's too hot to sit long in the sun. Can we, can we, can we, the girlasks her mother, and her brother hitches his pants and runs fastas he can down the wrong path. His sister calls and he runs back,sniffs a yellow tulip. Oh do what you want says her motherand the new weeds, and the cardinal says I will do what I can.
I could sit down on this rock, partway up the hill. No timefor the overlook, much less Split Rock. A good dayfor caterpillars and new greenery, mushrooms andpuddles just starting to shrink. All this rain, yet one daywe will pray for more. Some say the Rapture is hours away,but there's no sign yet. It would be some kind of change.I'm expecting something besides bodies sailing up intothe void, something more like the way new shootsof mayapple and poison ivy appear out of the muck,or spring warblers call invisibly from 10:00 high.Sometimes a leafy branch will wave and beckonthrough a window in the trees, then go still. Years agoI walked up this hill at dawn, sweating with the climbas I did today, and in the meadow at the top I walked upon a flock of wild turkeys, as if they'd been waiting for me.
Too much of anything is better than Milwaukee's Bestwhen the first snow hits in November and I'm already sickof winter, when it's stone dark by five, when the country roadsare lettered and empty and I should have obeyed the instructions,should have turned around, should have done it all right,every road swerves and twists and with each little townI have to stop and squint at the atlas, astonished when somehowI find them all on the map, somehow each turn brings me closerto the pretty clerk in the low-cut blouse who will hand methe key card with a smile like the deluxe continental breakfast,somehow not a single deer pops sudden and solid into my headlights,and the aching ball joint holds through each and every curve,and there's room in the ditches for a lot more empties—not thatI'm drinking—and I keep glimpsing water along the road,glints and shivers of light and the roads curving among themas I sweep through darkness, and I am never truly lost,not after the late moon rises in the east like God's thumbnail,like a medallion of embossed paper torn carefully in half.
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