Academic journal article The Hudson Review

The Runner

Academic journal article The Hudson Review

The Runner

Article excerpt

for Louis Simpson (1923-2012)

After the Caroline church and the colonists' common,

willow oaks and potato farms, you lay

beneath a cedar branch, and your gnarled hands

went east and west like sunrise across the boughs.

Safe at last. Or not. It's been five years.

Ajnd you, runner, frightened, quick, who survived

ambush, fire, slaughter, the worst there is,

where are you now, what governs your dreams?

The salt rose clings. The dead of Hauppauge,

old neighbors, tumbled stones in your path,

they ask, too, who heard your steps in the grass,

in graveyards on the North Shore ledge.

And camerados in the lanes, the everyday ones.

"The runner," they'd say, "we saw him with his dog."

Lacking real news, they welcomed you,

and, soon enough, they got it, full on, straight-

accounts as clear as witness ever gave,

alarming bulletins and tidings of despair,

and every item just as dangerous

as if another Chekhov wrote it down . . . …

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