After last night’s rain the woods smell sensual—a mixture of leaves and musk. The morels have disappeared, and soon I’ll come across those yellow chanterelles, the kind they sell in town at the farmers’ market. Once I saw the Swedish woman who raises her own food foraging for them, two blond boys quarreling near the pickup, and the next morning they were selling them from their stand beside the road. Out here, among last year’s dead leaves with the new shoots of spruces poking through them, I’ve come to the place where light brightens a glade of ferns and the log someone else placed here—carved “B.W.”—where I sometimes sit to listen to the birds. Today the sun is breaking through the wet branches, revealing a clean sky, brilliant, cerulean. Then, suddenly, a raft of scudding clouds promising more rain. If it comes, I’ll read all afternoon— Henry James, or maybe Eudora Welty’s Delta Wedding, where so many characters vie for attention I can never keep them straight. Here, there’s no one else, no one to worry over or argue with or love. Maybe the earth was meant only for this: small comings and goings on the forest floor, the understory astir with its own secret life. If I sit still enough among the damp trees, sometimes I see the world without myself in it, and—it always surprises me— nothing at all is lost.
At the Terminal
Remember how we took those separate flights imagining the worst: our plane gone down, our children young, alone? I’d leave an hour before you, wait to meet you at your gate, or you’d go first, arrive and rent a car, then meet me at the exit. In between, blue emptiness, our lives suspended where clouds stacked themselves between us: you on earth and I already gone. Or else I’d stand on solid ground and watch you disappear— my heart, my shining bird—a streak of light, a flash of wing, then nothing. Only one of us, one at a time. And whether I turned back to the concourse or pulled down the shade over the brilliant window, belted in above the tilting tarmac, I rehearsed this hour, ever nearer, when the planet would hold one or the other, and you’d watch— or I—the earth receding, or look up into the arc of absence, blinding space.