For a creature with stained glass windows for wings, she’s wonderfully light on her feet, prancing from blossom to blossom in toe shoes, rehearsing, we’re told, for a debut appearance in Mexico. But how can that be possible, when this one has taken an entire afternoon just to make it from one end of the garden thirty feet to the other, flouncing along, touching each leaf that she wants to remember?
It was very hard for those old bridges to step over even a little stream in all that heavy armor, and this while leading a day by its reins, so some just shucked it right there, leaving one boot planted in mud and willows on each side, and rode on, lightly, naked as a cloud.
Stopped at a traffic light, I watched an old man cross before me. He was small, with a beak of a nose and ears like little fielder’s gloves reaching to catch the high fly balls of sound that dropped all around him. Like an old hen with little left of herself but dirty feathers and deliberation, he studied the pavement, placing each foot on a spot he’d selected and looking ahead toward the next, though I could tell he might at any moment squawk and jump, flapping ahead with a ruckus.
And then I recognized he looked so much like me that it seemed I was now passing in front of myself, dawdling along, a man in the way of the rest of the world, noticing bits of glass shining in asphalt, thinking of lost people I loved, all the while feeling the heat of impatience pour out through a grille stuck all over with flotsam washed down out of a hurry: a moth with one wing lifted, a junebug like a drop of tar, and a katydid green as a spring leaf but dead to the future.
Ten seconds ahead, a red reflector on a fence post turns and looks back, and, seeing our headlights, skips into
the weeds on the shoulder. It’s never in much of a hurry but it sees that we are, and lifts a glowing mitten as we pass.
For Don Williams
This one’s been fixed to the top of a pole poked into the center of everything, and it looks like a stick with a puff of yellow cotton candy light spun round it through which a few bats flit so expertly that none of the light gets stuck to their hunger. The barn and grain bins, though, have got it all over their homely faces and a single strand drapes from the pole to the house. Out at the edge of all this, a deaf old shed leans in, turning the ear of a broken window as if trying to hear the music of the whirling carousel on which a frightened moth rides round and round.