“DO NOT HAMMER ON CAR”
and in smaller print
“DO NOT APPLY VIBRATORS
TO ANY PART OF CAR BODY
EXCEPT VIBRATOR BRACKETS…”
Thankfully, I can’t make out the last line.
As the train with enclosed cars comes
and goes, I’m smiling. Good to know.
[Beware the smaller print, but read it.]
I walk, seeking clarity, fresh air, the cedars
and firs arrowing up the brittle pale blue sky.
It’s cold, and now I’m smiling even though
my face hurts. [Even my eyeballs hurt.]
The last sunset of 2012 is not the last sunset. Birds
stir and call, piercing the crisp cold air. Puffs
of wind are frigid. What is stirring, awakening
us even now to surprise? [What’s next?]
Low piles of clouds cover all but the peak
of Mount Constitution on Orcas Island beyond
the bay. Even as I watch, the peak is shrouded
too by a reef of clouds. [I know it’s there,
though—and I am relieved.]
The last walk of 2012 is not the last walk.
Two friends on the trail, a pretty woman
with pretty eyes and a prettier smile, a small
dog with jingle bells still on his collar. [Still.]
On the over-water-walkway just off the water
the cold is numbing. I walk into the teeth
of a steady northerly breeze. In the distance,
Canadian mountains are rose-lit with last
day’s sun. A goldeneye wings low over
the bay. [It is trilling its thrilling call.]
The goldeneye leaves behind it a silvering bay
under a clear sky shouldered aside by the bulk
of Lummi Island. The temperature is dropping,
but I’m walking with the wind. [There’s less
I read “She said yes!” a message in chalk
on the sidewalk on the way from the coffeehouse
and I’m smiling again and now wondering.
How to get to this, again? [The nights are so long.]
Gulls wheel and skirl over a crabber and his pot.
Dusk is so early now. Somehow, I know dusk
will fall later and later. I listen to the activity
from the graving dock and shipyard and think
of a friend, gravely ill. [How much more time?]
The news isn’t all bad; it can’t be all bad.
I think of another friend’s forthcoming book.
Gulls wheel and skirl, call over those we have
gained and over those we have lost. They remain
with us. [I know they remain with us.]
Upslope and along ridge lines more and more
lights are switched on, but we aren’t any more
enlightened. I know this one thing: those we have
lost remain with us. I know this: the last walk
of 2012 isn’t the last; the last sunset of 2012
isn’t the last.
Andrew Shattuck McBride
December 31, 2012
Happy New Year! Blessings to you and yours.
If you are a writer, are you writing? Write!