We’ve lived here four years and counting.
We’re having a child, which gives occasion
to reflect on so much, not least of which
is the way shards of glass at first glance
resemble crumbs of fallen dried leaves.
An imaginative young one might see
a rain factory, not a steel mill belching
bales of steam. Should I correct her, him?
A neigbor’s row of arborvitae houses birds
who sing and fight and flee, and in this
the present moment reveals itself, tied
to nothing but its own simple ache.
Difficult to imagine anyone thinks still
of the dam two miles north of town
playing tricks with our ideas of the past.
Whatever one decides to do with it —
the dam; the past, present; the interplay
between each in one’s own mind —
depends entirely upon the importance
one places on context. I am in a place.
I can stand right here and be both myself
and myriad others who’ve stood before me,
simply by sharing the view, thinking
through myself. I know what happened:
water rose into second-story homes,
carried off all that wasn’t bolted
like a cynic singing, “I told you so.”
Then came the dam, and no more flooding.
Pictures in the books on sale
for fifteen dollars at Beuhler’s offer proof
of a kind. There’s also the dam itself.
The concrete certainty of its lift. Cyclone
fencing. It’s photogenic. A rock wall lays
a rudimentary stair for those anxious
to see its reach, its totality. All of it at once.
Men’ve painted tick marks on the bulk
to mark depth of flow. A way of tracking
something historic as it happens. Lifting
out of the historic the briefest of pulses.
How difficult is it to continue looking
as children would at things — as ones new
to the truth as it lives, breathes, sings?