Moments of Splendor

The corner signpost can’t make up its mind,
six green banners pointing, none of them
the way home. It’s five in the morning,
the last hours of summer before you drive away
from this New Hampshire town, back to the city.

Ride slowly through the lamplit streets,
memorizing dark storefronts piled with boots,
marled sweaters and aluminum canteens,
out here where you can scarcely walk
without tripping over a mountain.

Real estate ads tempt you with forty pristine acres,
an endless expanse of grass and trees. With which
you would do what? Raise cattle, goats, learn
to make cheese? Or just go privately crazy,
your nearest neighbor nowhere in sight?

Next to a poster for the theater season
you’ve just finished, a card for a poetry workshop:
probably a circle of rubes and grandmothers
writing about quilts. But you remember Frost, Hall,
and maybe there’s more to it than you know.

A girl in a knit hat bikes down the empty street,
head down against the chill, not looking up.
The one-screen cinema’s closed, but what if
the glass doors yielded to your touch, lights flickered,
reels spun quietly to life, just for you?

Maybe you could live in that apartment
over the antiques shop, its windows full
of stoneware moonshine jugs, glass ashtrays,
and one extravagantly ugly flowered vase.
You could teach music, write, climb mountains,

buy organic vegetables at the co-op
two towns away. You’re not too old to start again.
But what if what you want is in the city,
what if the things you’re meant to chase
are the ones you can’t say aloud?

Maybe you could backpack in Iceland,
wash dishes in Romania; maybe you could do it all
without a plan, without a bank account.
You could walk in six directions if only you knew
which one first, and what if you can’t come back

and choose again? The signpost is no help:
Germain’s Sat, Weeks Hosp, Riff’s GHSE,
Kilkenny B Ctr, CMW Emporium, Moments of Splendor.
That girl rides by again, but now she stares,
eyes fixed on you as the bike carries her on.


One comment

  1. Six roads diverged in a not so yellow wood…

    Choose Moments of Splendor. It’s the only one that makes any sense.


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