This Day

“. . . now we have only the words we remember
to say to each other”

W. S. Merwin *
“Before Us”

The words descending to my fingers
following the soft lead of the Blackwing pencil
still available to a penitent rising in the dark
of 4:00 a.m., transcribing a path
from the woman stirring to hum my name
and ask what is always rising on her breath
to hover at my ear—Are you all right?—
and I know to answer what the dying
come to say, witnessing to another rising,
another day of soft steps along the path
to the shepherd dog tucked around herself
dreaming nothing but high mountain pastures,
the ewes having lambed and nursed and
lain down orderly now in the green bounty,
the whispers of easy waters meandering
over smooth stones, amber beneath
the shallow stream, its comfortable run
of riffles to the deeper blue of pools,
parabolas I ease past for now,
grateful for the constellation of Christmas
red and yellow, blue and green string of
cooling stars above the kitchen table,
my light unto the flagstone path,
the carafe of dark-blend coffee,
the tangerine cup, its grateful weight
an offering to my palms, the dog having risen
now, a bumper against my leg, guiding me
to the writing table, its lamp,
the Mediterranean-blue journal,
the pencil . . .

Painting, Birch Tree by Katie McCracken, mixed media
* Merwin, W. S. “Before Us.” The Rain in the Trees, Alfred A. Knopf, 1988, pp. 30-31.