Back in the woods up the road past the old town reservoir where chain links protect unused water and brilliant leaves in the way of swamp maples Farther in the pace of fall slows to less flashy spots of orange and red dropped deep into reluctant green Empty spaces once the home of many trees have begun to fill in Mindful of the light dipping toward hunters hour we turn for home the cinnamon ferns wear beige now feather tips point along the angle of fall sun
Riding the river of goodbye nights alone taking songs to bed instead of you Heart resigned to half the life we had until we dance again arms yes arms wrapped soft and tight I see you there downriver waiting for my dreams to float the river shoals Less of forever to go around each bend And we will hear our voices say hello and dance outside the time of sleep
I didn’t know I loved the spirit in soil deep under reed marshes connected to it through my bones a vision of roiling life
I didn’t know I loved to sing that song could make me cry joy a quick moment on the backs of notes voices together light to dark
I didn’t know that I loved sense of place color memories until they were gone layered goodbyes in dim sunlight dusty motes on gray air
I didn’t know I still loved touch thought it dried and done but not forgotten only to find a fire so ready lit my blood sang even as I would cry aloud
I didn’t know that I loved words that they would fill every empty place pull me with them words from my eyes words from unheard thought
I didn’t know how much I loved my life sweet along with sharp and hard rushing in over tidal flats escaping just as fast that I could cherish it not just live it
____________________________________________ This list poem came out of a short poetry workshop taught in 2015 by the poet Doug Anderson. We read Things I Didn’t Know I Loved by the Turkish poet Nazim Hikmet, and were prompted to write our own list poem by the same title. This is the revised version.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” said Charles Dickens. Actually he only wrote it. Dirk Bogarde, my favorite Sidney Carton, said it with eyes shining in the dark. Words reduced to threads at the edge of a frayed cliche. Being able to hold thoughts in my hand for a while as they dribble down the length of my fingers, to land drip sandcastle upright as words on paper. It took forever to learn, but I have no regrets. If only words could cure the world as easily as pull the wool over our eyes. If widdershins could disperse oil spills or brillig or gyre could hoist a lance to run neatly through the heart of hate. That kind of thing. Words for the worst of times.
The wolf throws her head back to howl rising out of crystal spikes and mimic trees a night when even lynx furred feet will freeze on snow glass visited in the dark by shapes the woods hurl quick half life images for the next morning with one of them shouting at the sky