THINGS FREEZE IN TIME AND AWARENESS
Things freeze in time and awareness
more often than they used to. I stare
blankly at the candle-holder and the easel
and there’s no waiting, no space
for conscious intervention of any kind.
No comfort from love affairs I’ve mined
for jewels in the ashes. Halos reforged
from horns as ploughshares are from swords.
An existentialist would call this lack
of mystery, bleakness, and there’s no doubt
only a few flowers remain to the fall,
but I’m alone with things as if
they weren’t trying to hold back the universe
from anyone who wants in on the secret.
Five a.m. It’s still dark out. There’s
a red glow in the sky. Until her boyfriend
with decorative cab lights on his truck
drops the young waitress off to open
The Hideaway across the street. He leaves
and she walks right into the darkness
unafraid not giving a second thought
to what might be lurking inside at this hour
as if she’d been making serious love
all night. She’s the first bird to come back
in the spring, though winter’s coming on,
and death lets go of Foster Street like a spell
I’ve been observing, stillness through
the window, the imperturbability of things
at rest while the town dreams beyond
its explanations for how life is for those
who watch without memory or preconception.
To be alive simply and cleanly, sixty-five,
watching the heritage lamp-posts cast
static shadows on the parking meters
that never move like sundials or bloom
like galaxies flaring up from wooden matches,
(I’m writing this after the fact, so this
is the history before it gets to you
like the light of star, or the pictogram
of the Pleiades, Perseus holding the Medusa’s
ghoulish head in red Algol) and know
like a leaf whenever there’s this much shedding
something is revealed even the darkness
couldn’t anticipate after all these lightyears
this dead end, the gateway to an unspeakable freedom.
Cut free, somehow, of many things that
gave up on me. Disproportionate to my humanity.
The overworked apprentice free to play
hookey for the rest of his life as if no one
cared whether he showed up for work or not,
to explore the world as it comes to him
and not be looking for anything in particular
in the blue boxes stuffed with startled cardboard
that doesn’t contain anything anymore
it can’t throw out at aeons and eras of notice.
To see the dawn in the dingy blue ripening
over the rooftops and greet the day like a ghost
that’s beat death to the grave like a bet I intend to collect.