Thursday, November 17, 2005

Don't you know me

TO BETH, WHOSE PHOTO REVEALS SNOW AND A PASSING TRAIN

Because it is American to love

that which one has no knowledge of,

I lean in, shaping my eyes

to sharpness, hoping not to see

in the anonymous gloss

of this photograph some fraction

of your life within mine, no,

because we’ve never met,

but the train’s blurred logo instead:

an Indian in headdress,

or maybe a sunflower’s silhouette.

Slow and illegible,

its burden is

whatever cannot be moved

with ease. Once like the song I rode

on The City of New Orleans

south through rural darkness

to end in that city

where bathwater

seemed to spill from the sky.

Every spasm of rain

would send me

beneath a Napoleonic arch

to wait for the favor

of the sun, to watch

for whomever might watch for me.

And there was a woman

who asked to pray

for my healing, for permission to petition the angels.

All I knew to say

was yes,

though I did not close my eyes,

or bow my head,

or even believe,

but watched her, wary, while the day wavered.

I haven’t thought

of her in years,

just as I will come to forget

this picture.

But I cannot seem to pass one day

without thinking

of how one I loved felt
sleeping beside me,

or the faded

tattoo of a flower

she carried

on her hip like the vast freight

of youth.

Maybe, Beth,

were we able to speak

there in the bright swath of snow

our words

might seem

to one who watched

like the first, falling breaths of reunion.

2 comments:

LKD said...

I'll say what I was going to say last night, since I'm still mostly at a loss for any other word:

Jesus.

(and in case it's not obvious, I mean Jesus in a good way) (smile)

Paul said...

:)