Dust covers the window, but light slips through—
it always does—through dust or cracks or under doors.
Every day at dusk, the sun, through branches,
hits a river’s bend & sends silver slivers to the walls.
No one’s there to see this. No one.
But it dances there anyway, that light,
& when the wind weaves waves into the water
it’s as if lit syllables quivered on the bricks.
Then the sun sinks, swallowed by the dark. In that dark
more dust, always more dust
settles—sighs over everything.
There is no silence there, something always stirs
not far away. Small rags of noise.
Rilke said most people will know only a small corner of their room.
I read this long ago & still don’t know how to understand
that word only, do you?
Where are you? I think of you so often
and search for you in every face that comes between me & dust,
me & dusk—first love, torn corner from this life.
About this poem:
“Not long ago I re-read a poem I return to often, ‘The Previous Occupant’ by Agha Shahid Ali, and it made me think of the fate of those lit places we leave behind as we move on with our lives—or because of our lives. I wrote this poem remembering a tiny room I loved very much, on the top floor of an old house in Antwerp, near the Scheldt river.“