Residence

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?

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