Monday, September 9, 2013

the good afterlife

Your husband thinks of you from an autumn day in the good afterlife

He could fix his gaze
on the algae-slicked sides of stumps
waterlogged black among weeds

or notice how the dull gloss of the day lingers
on detail, pad and claw of a small animal’s
sharp prints across wet sand

ending where wind-driven ripples
ruffle up and slack down, retreat
and erase the farthest pair of tracks,

but the pale ribs and thighs of birch
gleam among tamarack on the other shore
and call him across the fifty-yard

reach of unstill, iron-gray water.
He wants to stand and walk to the trees,
glance back and see this shore dwindle,

a small, lighted room
glimpsed through a distant door
whose life he could cover with a raised palm,

and for a few beats he is back in those years,
and if he starts to sink, he will pull water
cold into his chest like nightfall and will sink.

But instead he remembers the last breath
before meeting you, the steps barefoot
across carpet to your knock,

the last step and pause at the door
where you waited on the other side,
that final moment of the old life

when the two of you stood face
to face like lovers -- not touching yet,
though the only barrier left to solve

was two inches of blank wood and a lock.


  1. It is such a full and bountiful experience to read this gorgeous poem and listen to you read it in your soft, sure, steady tread.

    You've provided a whole world of tangible things and feelings to come back to again and again in this poem, through which to understand the lifeline of the connection with this wife. How precious to contemplate this distance, the longing that draws you in, and the memory of the last moments before meeting. When everything changed.

    I rejoice. In the poem. In the love.

    1. Ruth: thank you ... you have been close to this story, seen it from the inside, and ... thank you :-)


  2. Wonderful title and I love that ending, wow!