Baltimore and Home
It’s the clang and flap of halyards
and flip of lines in the morning’s stir
and their present silence at night
on dark water where the lighted shore
shimmies on silk waves
when I return inland.
Now I bring to mind
the green shaft of slanted lawn,
sun tickling still damp trees
towering like these masts, rustling
above firm ground.
It’s the cheer and clutter of these colored streets
spilling masses of beer-soaked
voices and the stories I overhear bits of
corner to corner I’ll miss:
young men working on sidewalks in spattered aprons
and cracking colored glass to make art
and shopkeepers, tavern workers, and loiterers
and young girls with skimpy tops
talking about boys and guys talking
about Orioles and Ravens, their tee shirts
speaking the news of sports or beer,
politics or anatomy, eyes darting.
I’ll miss the age: cobblestones and rowhouses
with their improbable vertical arrangement
of space, with their flowerboxes spilling
petunias and potato vines and their doors
bright and alleyways intriguing—our dog
peeks down every narrow gated space between them,
where sometimes a cat crouches, sometimes
the back garden is visible or maybe
just imaginable and enticing to us both—
and all the shouting history along wharves
where brackish water joins the salt,
then all the world. The tugs, the giant ships
gray like enormous specters,
coming and going in the night.
Yet side by side the missing,
I find ahead
the comfort of quiet that waits
where deer graze on the yard
and ground softens underfoot,
where soil spins the miracle
of flowers and herbs
and a piliated comes to feed.
The dog will be unleashed to chase
the wind and all its scents.
There’s where we will kneel and plant
for the tens of years of sun allotted:
those loves of children and friends
and our own stars guiding
our private translocations.
From each I will open windows
to sight across the distances,
and, as now, reach from here to there,
and gather from there to where I bide.