Thursday, September 15, 2011

Reading Milosz at Dawn

Under the first light of morning the snow is blue. 

The dog thinks he must go out.

Once outside, he barks choppy notes up and down a canine scale. 
With it he breaks the peace, shatters it,
seems to ask “Can I come in now?”  He adds to this staccato
a plaintive little howl, much different from the warning of
his deeper song,  “There’s a stranger in the yard!” 
He signs his request in the air with the cold, white vapor
of his whines, the second evidence of his desire. 

I need a break from him; he’s always scratching himself and licking,
crowding the foot of my bed, and snuffing around me
looking for a handout.   Indifferent this morning, I know
he can wait outside a little longer without any harm. 
He is not at peace indoors or out.

For him I rise early.  I put on the coffee.  No going back
to bed, so I read Milosz.  Under the small light above my book
with a calendar beneath it with my life pencilled in,
the poet fragments his faith in God on one page, then pieces it together
on another with the glue of no reason
apart from, he could not, that we do not,
endure without believing. 

Without belief in God,
he argues with himself and us, we

are each our own number of days,
we become only one of everything that is named. With our lives
we shout and sing against eternity, then we are shrugged off
with indifference.  Between the words I understand, God or no God,
we are like the flash of a falling star; from a great distance
silent and barely traceable, a part of something larger
that we cannot fully reflect. 

Beyond my window, the snow is dead white,
the sky is a glaze of colorless daylight.
The coffee has gone cold and my friend, the dog,
still hopes in my affection with his voice echoing
against the dark forest beyond the yard. The echo reminds him
that someone listens.  He remembers me
as the warmth of the kitchen,
as the full bowl in the corner,
as the salt of my palm,
as the one who croons his name and knows
the softness of his ear.  Will he remember
I've sent him out into the cold, made him wait
without answer for so long?
We both listen until
I am compelled to let him in.

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