Into The Mystery
Of course there is a time of afternoon, out there in the yard,
an hour that has never been described.

There is the way the warm air feels
among the flagstones and the tropical plants
                                                                                with their dark, leathery green leaves.

There is a gap you never noticed,
dug out between the gravel and the rock, where something lives.

There is a bird that can only be heard by someone
who has come to be alone.

Now you are getting used to things that will not be happening again.

Never to be pushed down onto the bed again, laughing,
and have your clothes unbuttoned.

Never to stand up in the rear
of the pickup truck and scream, as you blast out of town.

This life that rushes over everything,
like water or like wind, and wears it down until it shines.

Now you sit on the brick wall in the cloudy afternoon and swing your legs,
happy because there never has been a word for this,
as you continue moving through these days and years

where more and more the message is
                                                                                not to measure anything.
Better Than Expected
Things were not as bad as I had thought.
The scrape in the fender of the rented car
could be hidden with a little white paint
before I returned it to the agency.

This CD of New Age music, which I disliked at first,
with its synthetic wind of pulsing jellyfish,
does a remarkable job of slowing down my heart.

Merely to have survived to this point
is already the most unlikely triumph;
to still be breathing and trying to improve.

Things are definitely better than expected.
I’m not on trial for anything.
I have given up on the idea of great success.
The oncologist says the X-ray shows no “abnormalities.”

We are always trying to come to a decision,
always in a place where we are making up our minds
whether the soup is good, the flowers pretty,
whether we are fortunate, or poor.

All my life I have been
        loved by women,
                  held up by water,
                                      ignored by war.
I have outlasted the voluntary numbness
I required to remain alive.

Why shouldn’t I be able,
why shouldn’t I be able now
to walk down the street,

under the overhanging trees,
and raise my arms and say
that the rain shaking down from the leaves

is not an inconvenience but a joy?