He looks skyward and sees he forgot
to snap off the lamp in his upstairs study.
He’d call it aging, but aging is not, he tells himself,
a downward slope. He hadn’t climbed to get here.
His life isn’t a hill. It’s more like a long sleep,
with tens of thousands of dreams, dreams of colors
and pathos, love and loss, humor and terror.
A dream that Someone Else had been having about him,
he wonders if that’s what took him here to his mid-morning
cup of coffee in the little walled patio, noticing
Mrs. Czarnecki’s roses, those fat pink ladies’ fists
shaking gently over the wall between them.
He feels the morning sun and is drowsy again,
like that droning bee, cloyed and woozy
in the sweet-smoke fumes of its blue work,
fumbling the skirts of the morning glories.
It’s all right that everything is young and new—
even the oldest books up there in his study,
dark in their bindings. They’ve changed their minds
because the world around them has changed—
as the best books always knew it would change.
Nothing is wrong if the book he brought down
slips from his lap and claps the patio bricks, once again
startling him to the high wonder of where he is.
This poem was selected for Best of the Small Presses 2009.
The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.