Depending on the Wind

By James Galvin b. 1951 James Galvin

A score of years ago I felled a hundred pines to build a house.

Two stories, seven rooms in all.
                                              I built my love a home.
daughter was in orbit in the womb.
                                                   Mountains spun off like the arm
of a galaxy into the emptiness our windows framed.
                                                                           "What a
view!" our friends exclaimed, and "Sunsets to die for every single night!"


Vertigo of solitude, distillate of loneliness for blood, my wife
untrue, my daughter flown, I, like a widower or worse, move
among the rooms I made.
                                     Where once I was not alone, now each
closed door is panic, and spaces grow immense with memory, like
shadows at dusk.
                         Gone that arrangement of allegiances called family
we never really know before it ends.
                                                      Like love itself, it isn't true till
       I have no family now but remembrences of tiny joys, tinier
dramas we used to call our life, like pollen over everything: brightly
colored clothespins on the line, a cross-shaped coral earring whose
match is lost, books of fairy tales we read aloud at night.
                                                                                  I must be
dumb as a gunnysack of hammers.
                                                   Wind still blows through open
windows like it always used to do.
                                                 What did I love that made me
believe it would last?

James Galvin, "Depending on the Wind" from X Poems. Copyright © 2003 by James Galvin. Reprinted with the permission of Copper Canyon Press, P.O. Box 271, Port Townshend, WA 98368-0271,

Source: X poems (Copper Canyon Press, 2003)

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Poet James Galvin b. 1951

POET’S REGION U.S., Northwestern

Subjects Family & Ancestors, Relationships, Living, Sorrow & Grieving, Separation & Divorce

 James  Galvin


James Galvin is the author of several collections of poetry, including Resurrection Update: Collected Poems, 1975–1997 and X (2003); a novel, Fencing the Sky (1999); and The Meadow (1992), a prose meditation on the landscape of the Wyoming-Colorado border and the people who live there.

Galvin’s work is infused with the genuine realities of the western landscape, while at the same time not shirking difficult questions of faith, . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Family & Ancestors, Relationships, Living, Sorrow & Grieving, Separation & Divorce

POET’S REGION U.S., Northwestern

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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