by robert wrigley
— for Paul
The only words that exist here
are mine. Well, mine and Paul’s,
who carved his name and a date
twelve years ago in this log
by the fire ring. Let me revise:
the only words that are spoken here
are mine, though they are infrequent.
Unless I am mistaken, all I’ve said
aloud today is “Good morning”
to a cedar waxwing, and “Thank you”
to the wind, for blowing the horde
of mosquitoes away for a while.
Also “Shit,” when I dropped my spoon
in the dirt at breakfast this morning.
At the top of the peak I walked up
earlier, I said “Yes,” peculiarly affirming
the sweat and rigor of the walk. Also the view.
On the way down, entering the trees again,
I saw a bear’s excavation at the base
of a slope of scree and started singing,
for some reason, “When I’m Sixty-Four.”
Because I love places without people,
some people conclude I do not love them.
That I prefer the company of trees.
But by tomorrow, the third day of near wordlessness,
I will be a garrulous fool, addressing the lake
and greeting a single small, white cloud
like an old and very dear friend passing through.
That night I’ll speak my praise to the fire
and say a few poems by heart to the dark.
Then, as the flames begin to settle to coals,
I’ll speak to Paul himself, almost as though
he were here with me, and promise him,
though I disapprove of what he has done,
that I’ll get his name, at least, into a poem.