A View from St. John's
Barely two, we stand here watching
the yellow leaves press back against
the clear, flat palm of the window pane.
You turn your head, your small hand
clutches in mine like the first time
you came to visit,
and I had to ask your name.
The morning seemed so bright then.
I remember turning away
from the windows, and then, without warning,
Sister Maria's face above mine,
and her voice and hands about my shoulders
shaking me from sleep.
You were there.
Just down from the city, your eyes
wore a look of trains and stations
as real as the slow, steady bump
of the seat underneath you had been.
You hadn't changed before coming in,
and you explained you'd spilled
the chocolate on your dress
just after the stop at Baler.
could I hold you?
Yes, just like that.
Five years younger, I suppose,
I wouldn't have given in so easily
to reason or to trains,
or mornings waking up forgetting now
the way we came, or why,
each village drifting back like leaves
into the night. I might have realized
that what I'd left behind
would have been enough.
I might have fought, and ended it,
somewhere else, not here,
but in ending stretched each year
as far as I could reach,
just as long as I could hold you,
just this way.
I remember you were six.
Suddenly eleven, sometimes
I don't know if
I've a right anymore
to hold on half as hard
as I do.
It doesn't matter.
You're here now.
And I promise I'll take you
wherever else I may go,
if you promise to show me Baler.