A Second Affirmation

6 August 2018:

I used to read Donald Hall years ago, after college, in a different time and place, and now he’s dead, and it’s fine enough I be the one to tell you. Aging is nothing like the seasons gathering on his farm.

A different mode, a different time.

I can’t ripple the same pond he paddled as a boy, but I can name the process of my writing: a boat with a hole, a riverbank eroding, or a gravel drive ruined by the rain, potholed and narrow. A washboard rhythm forever gaining and losing pace.

When I heard the news, over a month ago now, the gutters were still dripping as the sun began to catch the tops of all the ash and pine.

Eighty-nine. It seems fair that I should know only a fraction of his life.

What I gained from all he gave the world: the days he unpacked the boxes, the lists of a life gone by, and how over twenty years ago he wrote a hundred pages on the old life.

He knew back then things were carved against the stone with the last notch already stabbed in place.

A different place, a different time.

Now, my world is bruised and blending his. And I don’t mean to say I knew him. Poems have never really worked like that. Not completely.

Still, I’ll say, a passing stranger gives something in his passing.

 


Afterword, in his own words: a link to his poem “Affirmation,” from poets.org

“Affirmation,” by Donald Hall

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