Last Walk, 2012

and in smaller print

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
resistance, now.]

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!

About Andrew Shattuck McBride

I am a writer, editor, writing coach, and consultant. I work in a variety of genres, including poetry, short stories, and creative non-fiction. I also have a couple of novels simmering on back burners. THANK YOU to Nan Macy of Village Books for taking this photo (June 2011).
This entry was posted in Andrew Shattuck McBride Writer, Can We Talk?, Notes on the Literary Life, Samples, Trail Offerings, Transformation. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Last Walk, 2012

  1. Gorgeous, Andy! Your use of equivalencies, opposites, and repetitions builds complexity once again–and, in this poem, reassurance, too. I especially appreciate “those we have / lost remain with us.” Favorite sounds: “Gulls wheel and skirl.” And “Good to know” cracks me up!

    Happy New Year to you!

    • Jennifer! Thank you so much for your wonderful comments here.

      Ah, full disclosure: I borrowed “skirl” from an Oliver de la Paz poem and “arrowing up the sky” from a lovely Jennifer Bullis poem. Oh, wait–the latter is you! Oops. I hope this is OK. [should I add “with a line from Jennifer Bullis”?]

      If it hadn’t been so cold out yesterday while I was watching the train go by, I would have been laughing out loud at the wording. “Good to know” indeed.

      Thanks again, and Happy New Year–2013!

      Blessings to you and your family, and Cheers, Andy

  2. Andy-

    Wonderful. I am transported to Fairhaven, while I sit at my writing desk in Garopaba, Brazil. I love the word “skirl”.

    Will you be joining Tsena and I in the blog hop? I really hope so, as it is a way for me to connect more readers with your work.

    Please contact me asap! Please!

    Many Blessings in this New Year.


    Stephanie Renee dos Santos

    • Dear Stephanie,

      Thank you so much for your comments here. “Skirl” is a great word; it appears in a poem by Oliver de la Paz, a wonderful poet.

      I just checked your email on FB for more info on the blog hop. I’m sorry for my delay in responding to your kind invitation.

      Certainly, I’d like that. You and Tsena are two writers/poets I admire greatly.

      I hesitated because I have been having a bit of trouble with my computer recently.

      OK, yes. Thank you again!

      Blessings to you and yours, and Happy New Year–2013!

      Sincerely, Andy

  3. I love the view from Mt. Constitution! Even on a hot day, it was cold and the wind bit as I climbed the tower to gather in the glory of the San Juans. Thank you for being you! It is my honor to know you.

    Yes,I”m writing…working on my novel and catching poems as they come on a sun ray at dawn. AND, yes, AND I”m submitting!!! 😉

    • Dear C.J. Prince,

      Happy New Year!

      Thank you so much for your wonderful comments here. Your first two lines in your first paragraph read like a poem start to me!

      I’m honored in knowing you. You’re quite a wonderful character!

      Excellent! That’s great news. Keep at it!

      Blessings to you and yours, Andy

  4. Reblogged this on cjprinceauthor and commented:
    Andy’s writing always invites me to pause and consider, to see image, to feel feelings.

  5. tsena says:

    Andy, this is so very very brilliant. i only have pleasant noises to make. it just is. 🙂

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