After the Fact

It’s hard to speak
across that line. Here
on this side, a few words,
reminiscences, old photographs,
keep the tension steady, draw
the knot tight.

These cold October nights
we still turn for consolation
to images on paper. A shutter snaps.
Every whisker. Every wrinkle captured.
What machine could grind
a lens to such perfection?

Even now up Rocky Canyon Road
on sunlit afternoons,
cool blue shadows settle
into folds on the western hills,
etching muscular ridges
in available light. Is this all a dream?
Or another life?

The negative of this one?
Silver oxide. Stop bath. Fixer.
Where is the room with the squeaking floor
that darkened this morning’s coffee? A face
familiar enough, though shadowed
and out of focus. Storm scud.
Wolf scat.

A possible line at the edge
of a cloud, unraveling water
vapor, palm fronds dried,
tied in a knot: This crack
between sleep and waking,
this rubbing of mind
against mind.


Hear it:


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