The Present

This entry is part 28 of 28 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Winter 2014-15

Looking around for gifts at the antique
market, I tell you about the door
that swung those many years ago;

and I, not knowing you
were following behind:
running child, made

momentarily breathless by the smack
of my thoughtless passage— I’m rueful
still, though we know of such things

as accident, as what was never
willful or intended. I touch
gilt-edged books on shelves,

their marbled papers, their worn
cloth cases: in one, a verse sings
of a wilderness made tenable, made

bearable by the beloved’s presence:
A loaf of bread, a jug of wine and thou
and it is possible to endure all

that is or might be difficult.
So we pause at trays of vintage
photographs, gently handling the past—

Red-tinted, fragile, stemmed:
glassware and a box of thin
ceramic thimbles. Faceted

crystal dishes just shallow enough
for finger and thumb to gather
traceries of salt for scattering

on meat at the dinner table—
And I admire the snowy yokes
of infants’ christening dresses,

their thin laundered white
punctuated with asterisks
of threaded silk: who knows

the names of their stitches? But o,
what matter any loss or ruin from which
these finds were after all gleaned?

They live again: clear amber light
globes strung on chains, sleds with red
metal runners, songs whose words

the needle will trace faithfully
around the turn-table— And yes,
the things of this world

might fall away but love,
love is always its own sweet,
persistent palimpsest.

~ for Ina

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

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