The uneasy traveler, off the map after backtracking too much,
at the last crosses a narrow bridge over one of the Annas
just before sunset, just before losing all patience,
and enters an unexpectedly wide valley,
the road closed in by hedgerows,
the roadside ditches filled with yellow flowers.

An antique and horizontal light
catches the milkweed puffs that fill the air,
swirling over and behind the car
to settle in scalloped drifts upon the pavement.
To stop the car is no use; everything will remain the same:
to smell in the air a smoky allegory,
to see the hay spiraled onto the wagons
that wait in a field of analogies
beneath a sky roiling with resemblances,
to hear in the distant pines the crows
croaking out their metaphors.

This is already resident in memory,
all of it, as is the unpainted frame house
standing at a graveled crossroads in an oak grove,
facing a yard of moss and acorns. It is
a place with no surprises, where one is known.
There, in the pale twilight, a mnemonist
is methodically transcribing old stories
onto blank sheets of paper.

May 30, 2001

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