On His Way in Finding the World

By Dennis Sampson

Featured Image: The Lackawanna Valley by George Iness, 1856, Courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington

He was a person. He put
one foot in front of the other and often
thought of himself before thinking of others,
tried at times to ask a woman whom he loved
what he had done wrong and sobbed
during a counseling session in a back room of
a Catholic church when his wife made it clear she
did not want him to touch her. He smoked,
wrote in enclosures that were cold, that were sweltering,
and celebrated his modest accomplishments
by drinking alone in a bar in Cleveland,
infuriating those who did not like his kind
of frankness. When his mother
died slowly after a stroke he felt nothing. The singularly
vivid iridescent streak of sunlight in late afternoon in October
inspired him to write. He never forgot
the aroma of Mennen after-shave permeating the hallway
when his father left the bathroom, or the sweet fragrance
of lilacs growing in all corners of their yard. A person.
And he once held a leopard frog in his palms and was
startled by how desperately it wanted to get out.

Dennis Sampson has published seven volumes of poems, the most recent being The Lunatic in the Trees from Settlement House Press. His Selected Poems will appear late in 2016. He lives in Winston-Salem.

Originally appeared in NOR 17

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