Wednesday, January 15, 2014

*


Anna

Nothing moved except a green fern pushing its way out of a jar.
In our house, truths were told in the kitchen,
always in the hum of the fridge and in half darkness:
early evening, with what was left of light gathered on rims of things,
or in the pale vibrato light before sunrise
after we'd left our warm bed
and made our way to the kitchen table.

That summer we sat on the porch as if waiting,
as if we knew it was ending.
We waved to Anna, sixteen, in the white shorts and sneakers,
already halfway down the street and not looking back.
She flew like a moth into those soft evenings,
restless in the strange mixture
of twilight and the light of streetlamps.

One night we drove to the lakeshore,
past the powerful debris at the harbour,
rows of bins and trucks, train tracks, factories.
Past places we never saw inside of.
We watched the water until midnight
and never knew Anna was with us,
calling out in the fish-burnt air,
calling from the shiny embrace that closed around her as it opened.
No one heard.
Boat lights on the surface like the rim of light beneath a door.

She floated; rigid as driftwood to the brim of the lake.
Two miles from here we sat, in the night's slow annulment of colour,
gulls like winter breaths close to the water.

Endings concur: a crossroad.
Grief strikes where love struck first.
Our last morning together we sat with Anna's family in dark rooms.
We watched her mother put a sweater in the coffin.
These are endings that bind,
love still alive, squirming in the rind of the heart.

A voice we don't recognize calls up from ourselves.
We move in closer, trying to make out the words.
That begins love, or ends it - we start to make out the words.
We give to save ourselves. We forgive to save ourselves.

We recognize death and love when we can start calling them names.
Each other's.
The name of a young girl turned ugly by our deafness.

*

Poem by Anne Michaels