I used to think truth was a fast train
streaking from the station, self-
confident, unapologetic, on time.
Or a seagull wheeling, plunging in one
white flash toward glassy waves
to scoop a minnow from the water
in the black arrow of its beak.
Later, older, I could pluck truth
from trees when I wanted,
weigh it in my hands: ruddy, sun-
warmed, firm as an apple. Though
sometimes, yes, I had to search before
I’d find it fallen in an orchard. But as
I parted the air to lift it, the air
healed itself deftly as a door closing.
Years passed, patient with me, till
I saw another kind of truth:
a man totters from the airport
one freezing morning with the face
and shoulders of a CEO, but old
now, fumbling to push his arm
into his Armani trench coat, over
and over, trying, missing,
standing, trembling, finally
wandering to the doorman, who
holds the coat for him. And slow
as sun rising into winter morning,
the arm finds home, the body feels
sweet warmth, not of its own
making, nothing it earned or paid for.
The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.