Sunday, April 20, 2008

True story


One of us had found a lost village
in the Pomfret woods, so we set out:
intimates of decades, now women in the middle,
laden with jackets, Dr Pepper, pocketbooks
(and I in borrowed boots): the two of them
professionals of mind, and I, the occasional
mental mess—so I would joke:
the healer and the healer and
the healed.

We found the village: flat stone upon flat stone
surrounding heaps of leaves. It was mud time,
the least remarkable of the seasons: no flower,
no lush wet green, no last-gulp color—
save in the soda cup, and in our hair—
no starkness but those strange man-built
half-walls of rock. Here and there, a standing stone
we snickered at, with college-girl wit,
remembering certain long-gone venerations
of obelisks.

There was a graveyard, one of the healers said,
a little farther out, said to be haunted. Some of us
believed, some willing to harbor possibility.
And on we went, crossing two or three streams
(I don’t remember which), each of which
called up thoughts of past injuries and future
brittle bones.

Around us, trees with roots too weak
in mud time’s loose ground had fallen on their sides,
their mucky, gnarled bases standing like
slightly tilted wheels, bigger than a woman.
And also trees that had been cut, perhaps for fuel,
stacked like the dead.

On we walked, turned back, walked in growing dark,
missing the graveyard—symbolism
we’d just as soon not contemplate. An owl called.
Not whooo; some other sound. We never needed

Back at the car we ached, scratched, grew grumpy.
Ate, talked, slept, went on.

And now we part.

There may come a time
our friends grow wide, or winnow to old vines
and fail to recognize
and all the trees are gone and in their place
McMansions rise. But I will remember our hands
across the brook, our feet on the narrow plank
and mossy rock, so careful, so slow. I trust I will recall
that one time I made it over first,
surprised, in one strange flurry of courage,
and reaching over, gave a hand
to friends, the healer and the healer.

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