David Jauss

Moonlight In Vermont

                         in memory of Jim Ferry

  

My eyes open to dark.  The sound Iíve been dreaming
continues, a knife-blade honed on a whetstone.  Whose hand 

was holding the knife, and for what purpose? 
My heart beats hard, as if it wants to break down 

the door between death and life.  Gradually
the room reassembles itself, gathering the molecules 

of desk, dresser, and bookcase the darkness diffused,
and the whetstone becomes a snowplow 

clearing the campus streets.  Iím in Montpelier,
here for two weeks to teach aspiring writers 

how little I know, or anyone knows,
about this art that requires so much devotion 

to doubt.  I get up and raise the shade.  There,
snowing its white light down  

on the Green Mountains, glinting on the golden dome
of the state capitol, is the moon Ella sang about, 

so hypnotized by the lovely.  My wifeís
favorite singer, and song.  A thousand miles away, 

 sheís sleeping on her side of the bed, dreaming,
 I hope, of me.  Iíll be home in two days 

but that seems light years away
now that one of us has been found dead 

on his dorm room floor beside
the book he was reading, Reedís Beach,

Bret Lottís novel about deathís gift
for surprising us in an instant 

into a lifetime of grief, that nightmare
weíll all wake to one day.  I didnít know him, 

canít even picture his face, but I feel his absence
in the moonlight illuminating the snowy square 

he crossed three times a day to the dining hall.
How many times did I pass him on the sidewalk, 

look at his and he at mine?  In the morning,
we will meetóstudents, teachers, staffó 

to mourn together.  Iím not ready
to sit in that room full of strangers 

Iíve grown so fond of and hear them testify
to deathís omnipotence, each word 

one more stroke of the knife against the stone.  I want
to be home, next to my wife 

in the moonlight, listening to the music
of her sleeping breath, that hypnotic, 

healing sound, each lovely
inhalation and exhalation 

of this dream weíre all living.

 

 

 

Friends of Zeiram
(Terry Wright)

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