Someplace Between the Real and the Real

Evening Warmth

Evening Warmth

13 November 2013
7:50 pm

T. —

I miss you, but I know you’re dealing with more important things right now. I just want to make sure you’re doing okay. I have a poem for you, but I’ll save it till the end.


When I think of colors from my childhood, I see a deep forest green — when we first bought our house, it was a cream yellow painted brick, but while we lived there, we painted it to a deep green, and it looked to me like a forest had literally climbed up the walls of our house. It reminded me of pine, and Christmas, and Robin Hood, all the things I associated with green.

We had a sofa too, which was deep greens with a floral pattern on it in light greens, rose, burgundy, deep wine hues. I would lie on it for hours and imagine I was in the middle of a jungle, safe and warm amidst the trees.

I looked up my old house on google maps today. A funny thing, technology, to be able to see where I used to live, how my life has changed. They’ve stripped the paint off now, back to plain bricks. I found a zoning application for the exchange of a birch and a maple tree swapped from the front to back gardens.

Memory is a funny thing. Sometimes it feels like a picture of a picture.

Stephen Dunn

Yesterday, for a long while,
the early morning sunlight
in the trees was sufficient,
replaced by a hello
from a long-limbed woman
pedaling her bike,
whereupon the wind came up,
dispersing the mosquitos.
Blessings, all.
I’d come so far, it seemed,
happily looking for so little.

But then I saw a cow in a room
looking at the painting of a cow
in a field — all of which
was a painting itself —
and I felt I’d been invited
into the actual, someplace
between the real and the real.

The trees, now, are trees
I’m seeing myself seeing.
I’ll always deny that I kissed her.
I was just whispering into her mouth.


A poem for you that I re-read today. The whole thing reminded me of Mark Doty, somehow — how a few living things can keep your heart beating back the grief.

After Losses
Stephen Dunn

Around the time the living room
became unbearable to look at
I took in two cats, a gray and a gray.
It was after the dog died and
the house was getting smaller.
It was after I rowed the small boat
into the seascape on the wall;
after I invented the small boat.
The cats ended all of that, for a while.
I was happy to watch them,
their speed and lassitude,
how when they were asleep
I could touch them awake.

But I began to hear the ho-hum
in each purr.  I was witness
to the energy that misplaces itself
until it’s gone.  Mine, not theirs.
My dream: lying back
with a superficial would, every hour
a nurse’s breast glancing my arm.
Such nice passivity that finally isn’t
a life.  Circles everywhere
looked like zeroes to me.

I write this for you
who is surrounded by it now, the stasis
that won’t end, these afternoons when
there’s nothing to say
and you say it
in order to survive.
I want to tell you its ends,
it just goes away.
I remember a twitch in a vein-
as if something lost were tapping on a wall-
no, it wasn’t that mystical.
I remember something like joy
coming with a fat pillow of its own…
no; it ends, it just goes away.


Good morning, good night,


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