Remembering our younger selves
in the rain.
Ducking under stairways, sheltering.
Streetlamps reflected trembling
in cold puddles.
It was February or early March,
an early thaw, not yet spring,
it must have been soon after we met;
we were barely acquainted then,
nothing had begun for us yet.
What were we doing there
on Lorne Avenue, that night,
in the rain? Heads together,
whispering. Where had we been?
Going home to separate rooms,
but taking our time.
We were students;
it seems to me now
we were children still.
The smell was of spring.
Rainsound a thin pecking
at the last snow crusts.
Rain dripping from the landings.
We were hushed, listening.
We could not know
the brink we stood on.
The power was out when we went to bed
that night, remember? It had been out
since suppertime – one of those late
that used to roll through the valley
like a tidal wave. We blew out the candles,
forgetting which lights had been on,
forgetting about the radio
till, soon after we’d drifted off,
it jumped to life, full volume,
(along with the bedside lamp)
for a brutal second—just long enough
to jolt us awake with a dire,
frenetic male voice proclaiming, “Too late!”
For an instant we blinked at each other,
stupefied. You lunged for the radio knob
as the room went black again,
and there we lay, in country dark
(so much darker than city dark)
with that voice still echoing in our heads.
Was it too late? For what?
There were numerous possibilities.
Even back then, there were numerous
possibilities. The kids slept on, oblivious,
in their little rooms, their wooden bunks
under the flyspecked windows,
and after a moment we began to laugh,
a laugh we can reignite
with those words to this day.
We dissolved in each other’s arms
in helpless laughter.
If I were a word
what word would I be?
I would as lief
be a leaf—
(on the east side of the pond, by the willows, the water was so still that a dry, curled
leaf-boat, drifting on the surface above its own perfect reflection, made not the faintest
ripple, pushed to and fro by imperceptible stirrings of the air
the way sometimes, in a thread of air on an almost windless day, one yellow leaf turns
rapidly back and forth on its long stem: a single leaf, nodding and nodding as if by its
own volition, on an otherwise motionless tree—)
these are two mysteries
my eyes have seen
that seem to speak
More than a word,
I would as lief be
one of these leaves
From CNQ 93, The Rereading Issue (Summer 2015)