Just This Once (Written July 30)

Just This Once


She places her hand on his head,

The palm resting lightly on the temple,

And for a moment he wonders if it’s possible


That he is hallucinating. He closes his eyes.

She has always loved him, she whispers,

But all the words in the world


Cannot keep him from fading away.

He feels he is falling, into a whirl

Wind, and he longs for her to stay.


Never let go, he begs of her.

It’s something in the way

She leans over him to ease


His pain and his suffering, as if

Her only wish in life were to please,

Not upbraid him. Why, he asks,


Is she not always so kind and

So gentle. But it’s like a mask

She wears, for just this once.

A Mystery To Me (Written July 29)

A Mystery To Me


What she thought of all I’d just said

Would remain a mystery, as so much

About her remained a mystery to me,


Since that most wretched day when she

Told me she didn’t want to see me

Anymore. She might not even open


My message and read it. I certainly

Didn’t expect a reply. It was like groping

In the dark every time I tried to talk


With her. If she was there, listening,

She was deathly quiet, ready to walk

The moment I came too near.


Time heals all wounds, they say,

But perhaps this was more serious

Than a wound. Perhaps it was


A permanent rift. How sad

That would be, for me. Because,

If true, I had lost what was dear.

Somewhere Far Away (Written July 28)

Somewhere Far Away


He would go somewhere,

Somewhere far away,

Find work in a bank,


Or a call center. No one

Would know who he was.

No one would care.


He could do what he wanted,

And no one would stare.

Dress the way he wanted,


Have a room of his own,

And not feel hunted.

He could start life


Over again,

Free from the strife

And the shame.

Deep Summer (Written July 27)

Deep Summer


Already it is deep summer in roadside fields

And meadows and in woods behind

Old farmhouses nestled among the hills.


Hints of red and gold and brown mix

With the stark whites and yellows

Of the wildflowers, and the deep green


Of the grasses. The spell of hot weather,

Which made sleeping difficult, seems

To have passed, and the cooling breezes


Foretell the coming of autumn.

If life were a slide show we would

Press pause and keep this perfect


Summer day, thinking there could be

None better, forgetting that each season

Has its own sort of perfection.

When He Was a Boy (Written July 26)

When He Was a Boy


He dressed to go and wake the boy,

Though it was early, still dark,

And he knew the boy wanted to sleep.


He loved the boy but had to admit

He was lazy and very seldom

Did his fair share of the work.


That’s the way they are these days,

He told himself, and tried not

To think about it. But today,


Because it was the first day

Of the season, he needed the boy

More than ever. The traps


Had to be set, and he knew

He couldn’t do it alone.

He was getting old,


And he had to admire the boy,

When he saw how he used

And taxed his body


When fully awake,

In the same way he had done

When he was a boy.

Congenital Liar (Written July 25)

Congenital Liar


Of course, it all depends on the lies

She’s already told. But there are

So many she’s having trouble


Keeping track. She’s met a man

And wants him to believe she’s

Somebody she’s not.


She’s afraid, with good reason,

The whole edifice will fall,

Like a house of cards,


The moment she gets her story

Confused, or somebody who knows

The facts steps forward


To straighten her out. The day

Will come, and there’s nothing

She can do about it, other than


Continue to lie, or say

Nothing at all, and play dumb.

But she’s too proud for that.

The Moonlight Guided Him (Written July 24)

The Moonlight Guided Him


The moonlight came down the basement stairs,

Across the floor to the rocking chair.

A man stood up, white in the darkness.


A dresser, pushed against a side wall,

Its top drawer half open, showered articles

Of clothing to the floor. Bookcases lined


The back wall, with rows of unread Reader’s

Digests. The room was full of ticking, like

Crickets in July grass. As a snake sheds


Its skin as it continues to grow, and also

As a way to rid itself of parasites, he shed

His clothes, and found a material more


To his liking. For years he had been

Content to keep his little secret for

Himself, but one night, with a drink


In hand, he fell up the stairs,

And didn’t care what anyone might think.

The moonlight guided him, gently.

The Trees Hesitated (Written July 23)

The Trees Hesitated


He could not have intended for it

To be seen. No one would even

Notice it this late in the season.


Time is nothing if not amenable.

For two weeks or more the trees

Hesitated. Hundreds of fine black


Birds hung from the tall cliffs.

Mapped waters are more slack

Than the land is. The flowers


Were in bloom in the children’s

Cemetery. In the hours

Before noon the static


Became unbearable. The staircases

Were more sturdy in the attic.

What can I say of the marsh?

She Folded Back the Bedding (Written July 22)

She Folded Back the Bedding


She folded back the bedding,

As if to put a definite

Punctuation mark at the end


Of our week-long stay,

The way an artist

Will add a coat of varnish


To her canvas to mark

The end of her labors,

Whether she is satisfied


With the result, or not.

It’s a way of saying,

It’s done, let it go.


A week-long stay, away from

Everything we know,

Creates something, a mood,


An image, a memory,

That will color the old life,

And make it fresh again.

Our Last Day (Written July 21)

Our Last Day


The fog swallows the departing boat

As it moves around the head

Of the island. For almost


A minute it hovers there,

Like a shimmering ghost,

More in the clouds


Than on the water, then

It’s gone, in shrouds

Of gray. It is our last day


On the island, and tomorrow

We will end our stay

And return to the mainland.


A little before noon we will board

This same boat and stand

At the railing and wave


Good-bye to all that we had,

The joy of living close

To nature, the feeling


Of freedom that comes from

Being part of everything we see

And hear and smell,


The peace of mind we discover

When we distance ourselves

From the troubles of this world.