Which Way the Winds Blow

What hand opened the door, I don't know. No one
lives there in winter. And I don't know if it was for entrance
or for exit that the place opened itself, or was opened,
though I do know what boundaries
were broken. The lake lay frozen, the sky
still as folded wings. And everywhere snow

blown into the rooms, strewn across the braided rugs
and knotty boards, under chairs, creeping
like a slow cold tide, white and silent, out of its element

with greed. Then I remembered the photograph,
black and white, as old as me or older. What eye
watched that scene, taking it in, shameless, I don't know,
though I do know that boundaries were broken:

A woman, her grey dress blowing toward land,
lost on the shore in the dim light of her long day's end,
and a man, farther up the beach, alone. The sea—
mute, infinite entity—taking in its borders hungrily;

and the stolen child it drank up when each
entered the other in a moment
of dropped vigilance. In this kind of world no blueprint

instructs us how to house what we love
against the winds of loss. The woman, the man,
their child gone—slipped from the safe home of their love,
swallowed whole. I am not going to try to feel

what that woman felt, or to speak with her voice. I don't know
what she did next or how she did what she did next.
She is the mother, my fear, all the love ever lost to grief.
Her pain is an ocean vaster than planets, a diaspora

of longing flung to all four flogging winds. In her life,
I am sure that time drifted past her, with her, within her.
I know that that summer, like all summers, moved on
through the fall into winter, that the shore closed up,
abandoned, cold. And that the thing lost

still blows through us, the swollen door no longer shuts.

Alice B Fogel, "Which Way the Winds Blow" from I Love This Dark World. Copyright © 1996 by Alice B Fogel. Reprinted by permission of Alice B Fogel.
Source: I Love This Dark World (Zoland Books, Inc., 1996)
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