for Edward Hirsch
Like a distant singing, like a finger sizzling
for just one moment on the iron, it almost
hurts. Almost. But then something pulls
away, and the smooth belly of evening
slides over the earth; the pines and the spaniels
stop howling and suddenly drop off to sleep.
While the air is numb with the drowsiness
of clouds, the needle sails free of the scars
on the record and the record player lifts
its artificial arm! This hurts.
But then a boy lays his cards on his bedspread
the way a sailor spreads his sails
on the sand, and even this reminds me
of tables being set, of a woman calling
and calling her children through blistered
hands. Then something lets go,
and in her left palm she sees her own eyes,
and in her right the evening’s first star
pulls her toward the distant
singing of the sky. Then something else
lets go; the long sheet of night
winds slowly through the pines.
Here and there the lights
go up, like a shy applauding.