Tired, hungry, hot, I climbed the steep slope to town, a sultry, watery place, crawling with insects and birds. In the semidarkness of the mountain, small things loomed large: a donkey urinating on a palm; a salt-and-saliva-stained boy riding on his mother's back; a shy roaming black Adam. I was walking on an edge. The moments fused into one crystalline rock, like ice in a champagne bucket. Time was plunging forward, like dolphins scissoring open water or like me, following Jenny's flippers down to see the coral reef, where the color of sand, sea and sky merged, and it was as if that was all God wanted: not a wife, a house or a position, but a self, like a needle, pushing in a vein.
It was all so different than he expected.
For years he’d been agnostic; now he meditated.
For years he’d dreamed of being an artist living abroad;
now he reread Baudelaire, Emerson, Bishop.
He’d never considered marriage . . .
Still, a force through green did fuse.
Yes, he wore his pants looser.
No, he didn’t do crosswords in bed.
No, he didn’t file for Social Security.
Yes, he danced alone in the bathroom mirror,
since younger men expected generosity.
Long ago, his thesis had been described as promising,
“with psychological heat and the consuming
will of nature.” Now he thought, “This then is all.”
On the rooftop, in pale flickering moonlight,
he pondered the annihilated earth.
At the pond, half-a-mile across was not
too far to swim because he seemed to be
going toward something. Yes, the love impulse
had frequently revealed itself in terms of conflict;
but this was an old sound, an austere element.
Yes, he’d been no angel and so what . . .
Yes, tiny moths emerged from the hall closet.
Yes, the odor of kombucha made him sick.
Yes, he lay for hours pondering the treetops,
the matriarchal clouds, the moon.
Though his spleen collected melancholy trophies,
his imagination was not impeded.