Thursday, April 2, 2009

The bottomless lake

Driving through the streets of my old home town, where
I was born and spent my first 17 years, I cannot escape
a feeling of stifling sadness. This for me, I guess, is a
place of unfinished business. No matter how much the
town has changed in reality, it stopped changing the day
I left home. I still see the old buildings, those long
demolished to make way for new ones. Every street,
every corner stirs echoes, memories. The air is always
still and the past is very near. Is it true, as W G Sebald
suggests, that time is just a disquiet of the soul? I know
I should have gotten over this kind of stuff years ago,
but it only seems to grow worse the older I get.

Unfinished business; the hand on the table,
a fall in the woods, someone crying
unanswered, the party still going on
and you running away with a stone in your back
about as much, then, as you could take
but not enough now—you want more,
you want footfalls in the orchard,
you want a bicycle cast aside,
you want the back wheel still spinning,
and you tumbling down the bank to the river
ice cracking in puddles on frosty mornings
expansion of body, contraction of soul
a book on the go, the unspooling film
a long, long wait for the train to come,
reach up with your fingers and pull down a plum
the moment of pain still echoing like a shout
the last remnants of the birthday party,
on your plate, inexplicably, uneaten cake
the baffling silence at the shed door
the unpacked item in the case
the widening stain on the bedroom floor
the mystery at the bottom of the bottomless lake.

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