no one knows / whether they represent life or death
– Louise Glück
Pot after pot we pour upon them, back and forth
from the kitchen sink, laughing at your mid-sentence
pause delivering Purdy’s line—“during the fall
plowing a man”—the embers going as poems go
as we go barefoot back and forth across the grass,
the house blazing behind sliding glass, but really
just waiting and warm, the baby asleep further inside,
maybe waking as the glass opens and closes, feeling
how it shifts the air, smelling embers, tasting smoke,
hearing his parents’ laughter and knowing then
that the night, too, requires attendance,
and sensing a jealousy gather faintly around him,
too faintly, and easily shaking its hold.
The Louise Glück epigraph is from her poem “Burning Leaves” in A Village Life (Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 2010).
The quotation within the poem is from Al Purdy’s “The Country North of Belleville” in The Cariboo Horses (McClelland & Stewart, 1965).