Saturday, December 24, 2011

merry christmas!

I'll start posting again in January; for the past month I haven't had internet access except while at work. For now, December's lone blog posting: a poem for the holidays, for warm houses full of people, for the times you'll look back on.

the music one looks back on
stephen dobyns

in early autumn, there's a concerto
possible when there's a guest in the house
and the guest is taking a shower and the host
is washing up from the night before.
with each turn of the tap in the kitchen,
the water temperature increases or drops
upstairs and the guest responds with little groans--
cold water for low notes, hot water for high.
his hair is soapy, the tub slippery
and with his groaning he becomes the concerto's
primary instrument. then let's say the night
was particularly frosty and now the radiators
are knocking, filling the house with warmth,
and the children are rushing around outside in the leaves before breakfast,
calling after their Irish setter whose name is Cleveland.
And still asleep, the host's wife is making
those little sighs one makes before waking,
as she turns and resettles and the bed creaks.
Standing at the sink, the host hums to himself
as he thinks of the eggs he'll soon fry up,
while already there's the crackle of bacon
from the stove and a smell of coffee. The mild groans
of the guest, the radiator's percussion,
children's high voices, the barking of a dog,
even the wife's small sighs and resettling
combine into this autumn concerto of which
not one of the musicians is aware as they drift
toward breakfast and then a leisurely walk
through the fields near the house--two friends
who haven't seen each other for over a year.
Much later they will remember only a color,
a golden yellow, and the sound of their feet
scuffling the leaves. A day without rancor
or angry words, the sort of day that build a life,
becoming a soft place to look back on,
and geese, geese flying south out of winter.

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