The road where I lived went in a circle.
Inside the road circle was a circle of grass.
Inside the circle of grass was the matter I looked through
And looked at, waiting for whatever moved in from the edges
And came together in the middle of the circle.
It was already summer in the circle when it started.
Groups of children played often in the grass,
Turning their backs and forths, quickly,
Goalpost to goalpost but in no lines at all,
All of them running across the circle, away from me.
I met others who lived on the circle.
“How long have you lived on the circle?” they asked.
People lived on the circle until old age.
I was new, although the summer was advanced.
The ferns on the circle’s edge wilted a little in the heat.
One morning, two small deer slept
Beside a mother deer
In the grass next to the white soccer net’s white frame
In the circle. Their breath made a circle.
I could see it from across the street.
The dog shoved her head under my hand
So I could scratch the warm round skull under her fur.
Outside, the sun began setting
A little earlier, but the children continued.
Circles: a pond, a lake, encircling
All its water. A horizon would be
If you could see it all.
A stone you skip with its rounded edges
Out into the lake.
A chickadee’s chest if the morning is cold.
One day, a buck walked through the circle,
Through a pile of dead leaves in the circle.
When he lowered his head,
His big antlers caught the sun.
I mean they glinted.
I also mean they appeared for a second to have speared it.
Then the sun was released.
What would happen in the circle?
I asked myself most days. Once
The technician showed me a baby
Growing inside a circle
Then it was not.
Every diagnosis after was a circle.
Then the leaves went down
And the early moon came up
Above the street that made the circle’s tangent.
The moon, a circle, was so big
It would not be photographed.
Finally the sun went down on the other side of the circle,
Behind the trees without any leaves,
Leaving the circle empty
Except for the sound of the children
Shrieking like gulls over a very far sea.
OLD ORCHARD / ON ENVY
The neighborhood used to be an orchard.
A squirrel with an apple in his mouth, an apple
With a bite out in the gutter.
Two boxes of them sent to the president,
Heavy as gold.
A good tree can be bought, but better
Is to buy the house with the orchard.
Mongrel and clueless, the good trees drop their fruit.
It does not fall far from the tree,
Though it can be rolled or carried—
Look, they struck it rich, and now
They flip and sell, flip and sell.
The apples rolled underfoot.
A cold wind blew the dirt away.
Must get through it—
It’s like making a pie!
Or that’s what they want you to think.
So I went back to work, bare as a young tree trunk
After the leaves go down.
In the gorgeous rented house
Was a tapestry full of a tree
Full of peacocks and of roses
Round and red as apples.
In the morning, the light splashed over it.
The tree grew from a little lump of land.
The tree’s crown was wider than the land.
The moral is that the peacock’s tail had to end
Somewhere beyond the tapestry.
A wing for the nanny
A pearl for the pet
A fur coat for the little boy
climbing into the car
Champagne for the grown-ups
A tub for the salt
Bitter juice for the little girl
dark haired and pristine
Mine is the champagne
Mine is the salt
Mine is not the little girl
dark haired and pristine
Mine is the orchard smell
Mine the orchard wall
Mine is not the orchard
though what falls, falls near
The rocks the hills the mice and all the rest, except remember
That there are no hills, not a vista to be found,
Take yourself out to the edges, but the edges are forever
And recede and sink forever too. Lower ground,
Bluer, bruising, salt mines, both sides of the tracks falling together,
Also separate and also forever. “That’s a big lake”—falling sideways down
A flat lawn where the grass tufts bump and bother
And a sense of rust (or is it leisure?) gather round.
Remember that there are no hills. So fancy that:
Certain forms of motion become easier, it’s true,
I roll I skim I prance, for once materially settled. Tip a brim
Down against the setting sun that razes somethings hues
Across the land, a county, that’s the first estate, that’s a big old pile of salt.
Red bricks, white bricks, I planted it, deep down, a lower blue.
A blacker blue, these nights, but I must finish this before
The summer ends. Already set to rain all week,
An arm raised in a gesture that is: thrash the wheat or
Scythe right through the stems to absent dark.
Don’t even go there. In real lawns, the mowers
Lay the lush aside aside. In every park,
A live fawn and a dead one. In every chore,
An opening unto death. What there is to seek
Has actually just been found just now. So now I stay
Forever in this house? In every house,
A live heart and a dead one? So I must
Finish this before the summer ends, already it’s about
To rain forever, chilling, mildew in the tiled corner, rust
On something I’m afraid I didn’t think could get this way.
Something I didn’t think could get this way:
A glare a glaze a gritty bed the color of the sun, it’s
Gone, it’s gone, three puddles two beach chairs the only stay
Against a yellow-green horizon—and yet, never mind,
For still the mind’s complete horizon is a big display
Of plastics with the labels facing out, the prices, chemical endeavors,
Fill me or empty everything, I say, empty I say,
Develop me inside to whole or partial, count up, deliver
Any possibility remaining. Anyway, I alone
Could neither drain nor (alone) replenish much, not much.
Here someone else’s hot breath fogs up the sky.
Here honeysuckle covers up the shelves. I sweep dust
Back beneath the boxwoods while they last. It’s not a lie,
It’s just a local partial truth, the splintery deck that holds, the trust.