Thursday, May 31, 2012

Sea level by STEPHEN DUNN

Down from the mountains of Appalachia 
and the highs of new love 
I've come across the extended monotonies 
of interstates, back to where 
scrub pines stand small at sea level. 
There's the house I left for good 
(if forever can ever be good), 
and there's the Great Egg Harbor River, 
which widens here, and everywhere 
the visages of ghosts appear 
and disappear. I've come to visit 
the friends who've stayed 
casualty's course—the dearest ones, 
who somehow have learned to live 
amid the messiness of allegiances, 
the turns and half-turns of whom now 
to console, whom to embrace, and when. 
I pull into their driveway, wanting 
to tell them how it feels to have— 
for the first time—an undivided heart, 
a sudden purity of motive, 
but when I begin to speak I realize 
I don't. I say it anyway, won't take it 
back. When their outside cat wants in, 
they let him in. Then he wants out. 
They accommodate. That cat 
is almost as lucky as I. No mountains 
here, I can see the afternoon sun 
on the horizon hanging on, 
about to dip and be gone. Their yard 
is a dusty orange. I love the truth, 
I swear I do.

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