Late April in this northern Midwest city,
red bud trees in bloom, crabapple, and shoals of tulips on the hillside green.
Because of travel, my third springtime this year.
Out in the chill night air, the capital forms a stone cross on the hilltop,
its dome— like all capitols— a wedding cake in the floodlights.
At ten o’clock, the streets are empty, immaculately clean, a few buses
stopped with engines running, as if the nightlife had all gone down in
the sleeping waters of the Madison lakes. Through the dark,
a black man and a black woman— she carrying, I believe, their child—
stroll toward the capital steps. Though the temperature is dropping,
she is dressed in a summer dress, all white, a white turban
on her head, her ebony arms bare. Her joy and easy grace
make me think of folk art paintings from the Delta or the Caribbean.
The man poses them against a stone urn. His camera flashes, love-work,
swallowed by the dark. They laugh and link arms. In a few days, a week,
they will look at this picture and smile at the memory. It will be
one of many exposures, scenes from a family life in a distant place.
Today, I taught two workshops for teachers on the poetry
of listening, on the possible peacefulness of story. As always,
poetry angels filled the room, fanning the silences with their purple wings.
And teachers, not thinking themselves poets, wrote and shared
unexpected poems. As they read, the walls came close,
as when intimacy appears; some eyes even filled with tears.
Perhaps it is true— all poems say the same thing:
I love you, and I am alone.
© The Estate of Sandford Lyne