Another Road Home
It was when he said expansively There is
no such thing as the truth that his thick thumbs
thickened and his lips, purple as grapes,
further purpled. When I also spun such
spinning facilities as these, my own
vines ripened with what I hoped might prove
more promising fruit. Yios mou, set the large
man’s handsome books aside and sit with me
on the airy balcony beside our kind
and loving Father Iakovos. Truth may
prove to be no such a thing as matter
for our mulling; still, this evening spread out
before our mountain, above our mountain tea
suggests in its late, cypress-scented air
a pressing density, a wine-like, whelming
cup, ksinómavro—deep and dark, substantial.
And the road? Meandering, manifestly
inconclusive, and for that reason not
so likely to ferment blithe disregard.
This morning the world’s white face reminds us
that life intends to become serious again.
And the same loud birds that all summer long
annoyed us with their high attitudes and chatter
silently line the gibbet of the fence a little stunned,
They look as if they’re waiting for things
to grow worse, but are watching the house,
as if somewhere in their dim memories
they recall something about this abandoned garden
that could save them.
The neighbor’s dog has also learned to wake
without exaggeration. And the neighbor himself
has made it to his car with less noise, starting
the small engine with a kind of reverence. At the window
his wife witnesses this bleak tableau, blinking
her eyes, silent.
I fill the feeders to the top and cart them
to the tree, hurrying back inside
to leave the morning to these ridiculous
birds, who, reminded, find the rough shelters,
bow, and then feed.
Scott Cairns (Tacoma, 19 november 1954)