Somewhere, just outside of where
You live, a field has opened up and swallowed
An entire portion of history as if it were
The wind. This was not an earthquake,
Tornado or flood. It was not the wind or weather
Of any kind at all. Yet the loss was total.
Memory is locked in cells, a billion patterns
Whirling round a web of friendships, songs,
School days and incidental sightings: you riding
Past on your bicycle on a clear Spring day,
The first roses still struggling against the cool
Rub of the days; the way the oak trees lean
Toward the season, giving us notice.
And then all is gone. Those people who lived
Here, or near here eighty and more years ago,
Are no longer vertical, no longer blessed by light.
They have no voices. We walk the same places
They did and there is not one thing we know
We notice strange configurations of buildings.
A fence that has no purpose, a row of trees.
A handful of houses that “have always been here.”
Watch the opening of the leaves and flowers.
Look far into the easing of evening across your sight.
Remember all the names of friends, the kinds of music
That we recognize. May memory serve you well.
Here are bridges. They were built long before you
Were born. This one connects one city to another;
This, a country to yet another. The road here is old.
It was built because and English king needed to get
To the racetrack more quickly. It runs along the forest
Edge, skirting one hundred villages. We do not know
the names of these places. We name them with our breath.
Our breath names nothing. All places change. All naming too.