Academic journal article The Hudson Review

History

Academic journal article The Hudson Review

History

Article excerpt

Never to lie down with your wife again in the middle of August

in a field, listening for that train that comes

once a day outside Lucky, Ohio

Never to turn away from the Great Dane Bones

eaten thin with cancer, at the veterinarian's,

the injection beginning to work and the look

of absolute abandonment on its too-human face

Never to sense the presence of those dark downward-gazing eyes

and the dispassionate lifting of the head

as you wrote in the light of the kitchen lamp

and someone you loved called out

Never to reach up, switch off the light, sit quietly

thinking of your mother, her fingers twisted

and swollen with arthritis-of your father's obsession

with the lawn, the folds of skin on his back

Never to climb again that long ladder as the sun was coming

up above the high-rises in Toledo in windless

October, stepping out onto the roof slick with frost

until the sun healed you and you backed down,

shaken by how close you had come

to flying backward into the arms of the air

Never to stand in a circle of men saying nothing,

their fingers black from tightening the bolts

of a winch engine, their soft eyes lifting

when one of them speaks of a life that has to get better

Or to enter that white house again beside a meadow in Iowa

with someone near, the light on

outside on the porch, already whirling with insects

Just to sleep, and to sleep deeply, without disturbance

at the end of the day that waits for you on the other side

of the world

with the understanding there is no life but this. …

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