Trees of Miller Road
We walk to the river overlook,
and yesterday's snowstorm, partly melted,
shows through the forest
set apart, arranging themselves;
limbs hung with
languorous precision in the
V's of other trees.
One fell from grace,
as a brace over the
makeshift bridge, and
tumbled into a
cold, sodden place, perched
delicately on rocks in
the fast-moving stream
waiting for the next
spring rain to wash it
On the walk back, slow-paced,
breathing in time with his
labored steps beside me,
I widen my view from
my downcast gaze
to the river's run around
the big rock island,
just past the river bend.
Two tree trunks show us
their skirts as they lie
in the rocks, soaking in the
pale March sun,
revealing everything freely
in their toppled states;
their roots, their splayed-out
skeletons of their former
Walking further, the bushes
wave their first seed pods,
I could swear they were waving,
laughing at us, "We're coming.
This cold will end,"
Then, just there, through
the mountain barricade,
Our home and studio,
light blue, dark blue,
fill both sides of the road,
and just behind our bedroom eave,
the transparent cone of the huge
red maple, shapely,
sap rising, guides
Your birthday is coming....
Boychik, man, my son
not here. My old friend,
companion, your old soul,
still in a young man's body,
is traveling; over reaches of
the globe ravaged
by old war bones,
over ancient continents,
rich cultures I will never see.
Your mother, my son,
thinks of you from the cave
of theatre, from the
glare of successes, standing forth,
and the pain of failure to connect
rolled together in my public face.
All the while you are traveling,
I pull deeper into silence,
long for more isolation, quiet,
and mindfulness than I am for a
We dream of travel, but it is
hard to leave home. But for
you, settled so far away,
and traveling, traveling,
I would not aspire to leave
this place that gives such
sustenance, ease, and food.
You are in the world and moved by it.
That is enough, all I need know.
Grow on without me, dear son.
If one of us passes, slips off the
path of this world's consciousness
before we meet again,
know we met well. If not,
seeing your bright eyes
will salve my weary ones
next time we meet.
The 13th Day Blackout
(New York, July 13, 1978)
The usher burst in,
"The whole city's black!"
We were in the audience when the
lights surged out.
Stagehands with candles lit the
stage, the act continued for
those who stayed. Some ran away.
At curtain, we were drawn from the
dark hall to lights of limousines
parked on the plaza,
luring us to a darker night. We
wandered past people who
perched at edges of
We eased on to the street.
Drenched with heat, we
carved our way through
people clawing for huddled buses,
through crowds attached to
sidewalks, streets, dodging a
caravan of cars escaping
We pushed on through with
clasped hands, and grimly smiled
until we reached the heart
of the City of No Light,
the Square of Time,
where no neon flashed,
the pulse had stopped,
and except for the
rumbling of cars,
Soundlessness suspended us
in that place of no plans, no force.
Still holding hands, we strolled past
broken windows, looted stores,
past crowds hovering 'round
a single radio.
Wondering when the play would end,
searching for a denouement, we
stumble down dark subway stairs,
into silent hollows, we hear ourselves
whisper in the eerie echo of the tunnel,
as we stare down the line, lighters flicker in the
hands of passengers stuck in cars, flame, then dark,
flame and dark, like giant lightning bugs.
At the sound of rats scampering over dead
third rail, we stagger through the turnstiles,
and back upstairs where the night seems
brighter in the kaleidoscopic play of headlights
on high rises, our eyes travel upward toward
skyscraper quarters, the glimmer of candles
from bedroom windows. Disaster's aphrodisiac traps
tenants in their homes, in their beds together,
as in another long forgotten time,
with enough light for them to catch the
reflections of each other's eyes.
We stare too, and keep walking,
over the sidewalk's heat and
the history held beneath it,
stare past the skyscrapers to the stars beyond.
The stars wink back, as if they understand that countless
years from now they will see this blink of darkness,
this soothing, velvet darkness,
as a premonition of the blackness
that will replace these fragile lights. When
this blackout floats toward them on that future, distant
this city will have long ago turned off its lights forever.
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