I see and hear the wind.
It is unreceived. Clouds flee backwards.
I think myself into a stupor.
Once upon a time everybody was here.
Then the pellets started to go.
They move and move little,
like my brother or childhood,
or a little schoolhouse
near the zoo, boarded up with directions
to some other telltale structure, crusted
with scaffolding like frosting on winter’s cake,
to tell you, go through, go through now,
die and formally die.
Yet autumn stays sequestered
and likes it. In that period
some people still came to visit, with nothing
on their minds, no reason, not even liking you.
A lot of autos stormed the site
of the one pine’s expiration, breathing, asking
for you. Some said you had gone,
but you were hiding under the porch, stung
with remorse. Now this person
comes and says have you seen the shed,
it gives me goose bumps, and I, stuck as always on
which word should be the first, but comes out
in no particular order, volunteer my notes on the
time we sat with woodpeckers on the
various counterpane and had a swig—
when you were, I mean, on the fence,
just inside, talking the way people in dreams
talk to those who are awake, subverting the last
ditch of defense in time for what
takes it away …
The light of late afternoon
chiseled the sea and barracks, but who
was keeping count? There were more tourists
than usual that day, the town seemed to run away from them
as we approached them, wondering what was wrong, what was the matter
with the bland corpses they had come to see name
something we ourselves couldn’t see for being in it
as mute pedestrians moved to adjourn it.
I’ve seen it before, I’ve seen it in the street:
These various resolutions fade in and out,
plaiting a track on the texture of day,
a legacy of distant effort, wispy
and traditional, like dads and moms coming off
the assembly line. But they never get that right.
I just said goodbye.
© John Ashbery