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A Political, Cultural and Literary Blog
Two Poems by Hadley Hury
I‘ve never prayed along a strand of beads
or bowed on a prayer rug five times a day,
but I may have heard echoes of Tibetan chants
or pilgrim steps across the hills of northern Spain
when I rub wax into the old table
and buff back and forth, back and forth,
look for shadows, then stroke it again
back and forth.
Raking leaves brings that stir
of reaching out again and again,
like a swimmer pulling through the clean October air,
the making of the mounded stacks,
here the wheelbarrow for the compost heap,
and there, along the walk, all those
brown recycle bags waiting pleated and tall.
I’ve even sensed I might be onto something
simply standing in the laundry room,
in the gray oblong of winter light
from the one small window,
and carefully shearing warm lint
like wool from the filter.
On an afternoon walk a few days ago
I saw an older couple walking from their car
up to their porch. He stood to one side
as she opened the door and they went in.
I don’t know them but I do happen to know
that he recently had surgery
for stage-four brain cancer.
I can’t see behind their door,
but I know their litany is changing,
and the eventual question we all must face
is whether ours will turn bitter or sustain.
As I go from room to room
turning on the lights at dusk
I know what I cherish,
the familiar pattern forged
by finding the button on this lamp cord,
this reaching once again for the switch
on the sconce above the stair.
When you come into the room
and we sit down with our drinks,
let’s toast the sturdy wonder of having been
here yesterday, the day before,
always on the cusp of unknown waves
like birds migrating half the globe
because it’s what they do.
We make our paths
and join the world
with these recognitions,
as improbable as everything else,
an impulse in the scheme of things
that somehow finds its place.
When you spoke in your sleep
I looked over your shoulder
and the red digits showed 1:30 a.m.
"Here," you had said—softly but quite distinctly,
as though in conversation, and evidently driving—
"This is the road to my grandparents’ house…There they are!"
Now, hours later over coffee
in the gentle light of the porch,
you say you have no recollection
of this encounter with these people you last saw
alive and together nearly forty years ago—
but I'm happy you had me along, this once, to meet them.
Perhaps it is early morning, and perhaps
they too are seated on a screened porch—waiting for us—
crosswords in their laps.
Good country people, they may not be savoring
as we are a hint of cinnamon in their coffee,
but for all we know it may be precisely
this moment of early September when the sun
inches over the next branch south in the buckeye tree
and the world is fresh.
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