Shadows

I went for a walk with my dog too late at night.
She is a beastly wolfish black
With a little snow on her nose
And I am in my black coat
The one I bought when I didn’t have any money
That has seen me through the hardest years of my life
And bears the scars.

Together we are two shadows
Traversing the earth.
Here, but not here.
And when I am not trying to avoid
Getting hit by cars
I am trying, simply, to be present.

To my dog, everything is new and wonderful
Everything must be sniffed and tasted and peed on
And relished to the utmost
And I think I could be as joyful as her
If I could really be in this moment
The way that she is.

But how can I?

When every house glows like an enlightened soul
And I begin to wonder what houses think of.

And what is this moment?

When snow has gathered on a nobbly stone wall
And all I can see
Is a freckled little girl stealing a moment
To try on her mother’s pearls.

How can I focus on now?

When only hours or minutes earlier
A deer passed by
Spindly legs poking dainty holes
In freshly-fallen snow

And what is the present?

When every time I stamp my boots to rid the snow
I hear a hundred years of boot stamping
Echo through the solitude of a hundred Vermont winters
And I wonder
What they were coming in from
And what possessed their wintered minds.

Surely it wasn’t the guilt of lost
“hereness”
and “nowness”
but maybe they wandered as I did
among the homes and smells and sounds
my dog and I
two shadows
here, but not here.

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