Today the newspapers don’t speak
of one culture swallowing another.
Brothers are guiding their younger sisters
by the hand through city traffic.
Husbands are facing their wives in cafés
and listening, earnestly,
while radiant olive-skinned waitresses
stoop to collect shattered glasses.
I am sorting through a sea
of fruit carts in Monastiraki Square,
shadowed by an older democracy,
selecting those bruised
and most affected by the deep heat,
leaving those ripe for a less yielding day.
Once again like clockwork gray days
of rain recycled from April.
Maple boughs glassing over.
Children stiffening their limbs
for recycled lessons.
Neighbors predicting thunderclaps
moments after they strike.
Glimpses of what will be lost, again,
tugging at the day’s shortening sleeves.
Already there is talk of rebirth
before a single tree has shaken free of color.
And talk of gardens,
everything next to plant.
It has been written
we must board the night bus to Gloucester.
There is no such bus this time of year.
It seems we have a long wait, again,
in the rain
with wet matches.
I drive across a covered bridge, failing,
planks loosening beneath my weight,
all manner of tree russet and gold, shedding,
praying for a little less permanence.
The road winds around abandoned barns
wearing name plates and birth dates.
Perfect square plots of earth the state cannot sell,
that so few people visit still the scents
of horses and musket fire endure.
I see a wheel smoothly
carting river water in circles,
toward me and away.
A silent wheel a boy of five
might see very differently
being acclimated to the deafening
marvels of science.
The White Mountains loom overhead,
dip below the tree line and reemerge, unchanged.
They’ve forecasted an early snow this year.
The morning sky could hardly be darker.
Waking to a Strange Letter
From the torrent outside a single drop
struck your cheek and evaporated
before you woke.
Nothing changed. The dream-
cluttered bedroom. The foreign
city’s timbre breaking upon its door.
The circular path of light
your mother’s lamp cut
like an incomplete halo
upon the pillow’s harsh white.
If only I could explain the sorrow and panic
of watching that tear you never wept
climb from your face and cake
in the silent half-light between—
staining our new linens.