On the eighth day he coined the word “alone”
and saw that it was as good as everything else.
A yellow school bus rattled down the lane,
a wind blew in a drainpipe, strong, mellifluous.
I brought two empty crates to the parking lot,
watched neighbors with briefcases and car keys.
At noon a mailman passed by where I sat
invisible, like a tree among trees.
Why, why, I asked. I wanted to know why,
but only scared a squirrel that dropped his acorn
when my voice broke silence unexpectedly—
a white noise in a wireless telephone.
My club soda went flat in the bottle. With a spit
of rain, a wind blew again from the lake.
I raised my index finger and touched it,
pleading, give me a break, give me a break.
I’m jotting down these lines,
having borrowed a pen from a waitress
in this roadside restaurant. Three rusty pines
prop up the sky in the windows.
My soup gets cold, which implies
I’ll eat it cold. Soon I too
will leave a tip on the table, merge
into the beehive of travelers
and board one of the ferries,
where there’s always a line to the loo
and no one knows where the captain is.
Slightly seasick, I keep on writing
of the wind-rose and lobster traps,
seagulls, if any—and there always are.
Check the air and you’ll see them
above straw hats and caps.
The sun at noon glides like a monstrous star-
fish through clouds. Others drink iced tea,
training binoculars on a tugboat.
When I finish this letter, I’ll take a gulp
from the flask you gave me for the road
in days when I was too young to care about
those on the pier who waved goodbye.
I miss them now: cousins in linen dresses,
my mother, you, boys in light summer shirts.
Life is too long. The compass needle dances.
Everything passes by. The ferry passes
by ragged yellow shores.