Summer 2023 • Vol. XLV No. 1 PoetryJune 15, 2023 |


Someone’s hung wind chimes on a low branch, the chord 
	tossed slowly by wind.

Once more the ghosthouse inside me, opening its doors.

Once more the town laid within an ancient lake bed, its mountains 
	burning, and the wash of smoke in the pines 
	above the wide creek, 

the clear water over red stones, and the brothers 
		skipping rocks for a few hours in silence.

And I am still who I was
	but more careful, more 
	trustworthy, maybe, 

stunned by the ease of my desire, then, to change everyone around me.

I once thought, The town is mine, the whole month is mine,
	when there was only a rain of chimes in the morning.

Just water, flowing down from spring snowpack.  

The stand of ponderosas, their bursts of needles soft and wholly 
	black against the end of evening.

The same town

The same people, older now, the same
	old proposals — I am no different from them.

Once more the smell of woods, the vanishing
	space between cottonwoods.  

To claim freedom in the first half of life is not the same as claiming it later.  

Land and light, the clearest glass creekflow, the bare task of being here, 
	and these sharpblack 
	swallow-shapes sailing 
	out from the banks 
	in eerie nets of 
	clouds — 

They are temporary, and private.

Like smoke, I slip into the footprints of those 
	who have come to this water 
	to be alone, 

nacre spreading through cold and shallow currents,

a toppled tree, a pool formed for swimming,

and despite the drought, an air smelling fresh with deep trees, 
				not even burnt, 

my empty hands held up by streaming water, wrists 
	made beautiful by water.  

Shore of my days, have I not been pulled from each 
	disaster?  Have I not been
	lucky enough.


Another day here, the boys seem restless, their pockets
	packed with striped stones.

An old man on the path says, It rained so hard in the mornings there was
	foam on the ground.  This was years ago.

And the man I once thought I loved 
	most I can feel only 
	fondness for, having 
	backed away from my own 
	obsession enough to 
	see — we share
	a sense of having lived 
	through it.  We are small 

and built of the finest spindrift 
	tissue, vessels flowing 
	with fragile blood, a hint 
	of rust, and, ruthless 
	disease so far 
	sparing us, 

lucky not to take leave of life just yet,

to be able to rove through days clockwise, less enraged — 

Goodbye to him, to that wild bewilderment and rage,
	to letters, calculations, tricks.

Becoming mist when we were once rain.

And if this change is not any simpler, it is, at least, 
	right now, true.

I do not wish to go back.

I still want to be more than what I have been.

Geography, the accident of my birth, the accident of these sleek reeds
	rises up from the water — the pines 
	seem lifted by night — 

and what I have now may be the most I ever have,
	my parents alive,
	a man I love deeply, a new family,
	a body that can still run the silk
	bolt of trails through these woods,
	a way to inhabit the cooling night air,
	my legs, my arms, my steadfast
	love of mornings, the hush of summer, 
	the elaborate charts of hours and weather, 
	this creek at nightfall, the shuffling leaves,
	the lunar grass, the smoke, the stones
	changed by each current, even at night,
	water streaming toward flutes of
	reeds, tinted with gold — 

And the clear flecks of rain against the windshield, someone on the radio
	speaking of rain, and a faint white ash
	falling on wind.
Photo of Joanna Klink

Joanna Klink is the author of five books of poetry, most recently The Nightfields. She teaches at the Michener Center for Writers in Austin, Texas.

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