For Phyllis, October 2012
The way that water holds the shape
of a hull for a moment after the ship passes,
then falls inward to embrace
the absence.The light of afternoon in the grasses,
the lull of crickets slowed by time and cold.
You saw the world as it was, the fastest
shutter speed, the oldest joke in the book. When he told
me you were gone, dear soul, sailing out beyond
reckoning,beyond any anchor-hold—
how the day dimmed. A greatness gone. I could shout
after you over that blue-black shivering expanse
and nothing, not even an echo, would return. About
five years ago, in your sunroom, I had the chance
to ask how you first met. You told me
of a hike in the White Mountains, the intense
brittle solidity of the cold. And on one ridge you could see
snowflakes appearing all around you, out of the air,
"just popping into existence from the clear air, suddenly..."
Everything you loved about this world, it's still there,
only you've moved beyond it. Fog banks stand
there past the outer islands. In the sunroom, your chair
is empty, the light comes down. Your hands
on the tiller, this water underneath the hull, memory.
Mais où sont les neiges d'antan?
Ici, ici, ici.