Alan: What was it? Nothing like this should live here. Seeing it once, we always looked but never found, except within us.
The snake, big as my arm,
and black, slipped
from the warm ledge
into rough grass –
We felt it must have ruled
this place forever,
until our thumping arrival
It moved, then,
into the thickets and rank weeds
of our memories,
where it emerges, rarely,
to stretch and sun,
blacker than ever,
crowned with gold,
though the actual ledge
is cool now, with a rind
of moss, in the shade
of roses and lilacs.
Nancy: While recuperating from pneumonia, I temporarily traded my bay for a rivermarsh.
Neighbors Strangers To One Another
We know homely and intimate things about one another.
We know paint/no paint. We know angles. I know
that their barn is slumped away from the prevailing wind.
We both know the wide rivermarsh between us
and the ledgy tongue of spruce woods which divides it,
giving us each a false boundary.
They are – this is – the house on the other side
of the marsh.
They know, because the eye is drawn by a kind
of human gravity, when I went to bed,
my light, one star, dark.
I know, because I watched the smoke rise,
that they slept late this morning, that the kindling
was damp, that at last the fire caught.
Maybe we both keep bees. Maybe we both
favor red hollyhocks. Maybe we have nothing in common,
but we are important strangers to one another nonetheless.
I am – they are – the neighbors on the other side
of the marsh.