You’re lucky to have a lifetime in one place, Dave — do you feel that way, or does it get to you sometimes?
—Beth (via email)
I have sat on my front stoop for two hours, glass of homebrew in hand, and I can tell you that I am not in a hurry to move any place else. It’s finally sunny after many days of rain, but the temperature is still only 65 degrees in the shade, and the oak leaves have yet to reach their full extent — hell, the black walnuts and black locusts have barely begun to open. I wish every spring took its time like this! I watch a bumblebee have intimate relations with the fresh pink blossoms on a bleeding-heart. A male ruby-throated hummingbird hurtles up and down, back and forth in his U-shaped courting flight, like the pendulum of an invisible clock. I watch a rose-breasted grosbeak singing as he flies, the red triangle on his breast catching the sun like a tribute to the 40th anniversary of May 13. (Damn, I was only two years old in 1968!)
A sharp-shinned hawk circles with that peculiarly rapid flapping they do, rising from the vicinity of my parents’ back porch to disappear into the slipstream above the ridge on wings of gold. A little later, a turkey vulture glides past. I watch innumerable flying insects backlit by the sun, all drifting in the same direction, west to east, in the almost imperceptible breeze. And all the while I listen to Roscoe Holcomb piped over the Internet, that high-lonesome Appalachian blues sound. At a certain point my eyes tear up: I can’t help thinking of those tens of thousands dead in Burma and in China. Poor fuckers. Whether you live on the coast or in the mountains, the land you love can turn on you at any time. That’s kind of what I was trying to get at with my last poem — the way we are bound to a particular place on this earth, even if we are a party to its undoing, and find it devilishly hard to pick up stakes. I mean, those folks in Picher, Oklahoma: Jesus Christ.
I like the way alcohol makes me feel content and dissatisfied at the same time. Newly energized, I get off my ass and pull a bunch of weeds just as the sun is going down. As soon as it slips behind the western ridge and the shadows disappear, the catbird flies to the top of the tallest locust in the yard and begins to improvise. Beth, since you asked: it gets to me every day.