By Lawrence Raab
Featured Art: Seascape by Pierre-Auguste Renoir
One cloud was following another
across a blue and passionless sky.
It was the middle of summer, far enough
from December for a man to feel indifferent
to the memories of cold, not yet close
enough to autumn to be caught up
in all its folderol about death.
Neither cloud looked like a whale
or a weasel, or any kind of fanciful beast.
All morning I’d felt my life dragging me down.
The view from my window refused to lift my heart.
The sight of a blank piece of paper
filled me with sadness. I wanted to set
my life down in a comfortable chair, tell it
to take a long nap, and walk away as if
I were somebody else, somebody without a house
or a family or a job, but somebody who might
soon feel with a pang precisely the absence
of everything I had. A cool breeze lifted
the curtains in the room where I was sitting.
A bird was singing. Had it been singing for long?
Far off there were mountains, but I didn’t
wish to go there. Nor did I yearn
to be standing by a lake, or walking
beside the tumult of the sea.
The little bird kept repeating itself.
I filled a glass with water and watched it tremble.
Lawrence Raab is the author of nine books of poems, most recently Mistaking Each Other for Ghosts (Tupelo, 2015), which was longlisted for the National Book Award, and named one of the Ten Best Poetry Books of 2015 by The New York Times, and The Life Beside This One (Tupelo 2017). A new collection, April at the Ruins, will appear from Tupelo in March 2022.
Originally appeared in NOR 4