michael hogan (July 14,1943 / Newport, Rhode Island)
Poem on my 70th Birthday
After a night of rain
eucalyptus hangs heavy and redolent with damp breath.
Ground fog clings to unmown grasses in the park
where the dog bounds like a joyful shadow.
Everything is new.
A hummingbird balances on a slim branch of spruce
while, unreported by Fox News, a squirrel scampers down the trunk.
Streetlights on timers blink off
and the first lid of light opens the eye of the east.
Drops of rain glisten red and violet on the polished roofs of cars.
Once I lived another life
and now there are fewer to remember.
Mother gone, father long before
although the rhythm of their language is inside me still:
scraps of songs and poems mother memorized
of an older time when the forests were primeval
of murmuring pines and hemlocks.
I suppose there was a dog back then as well
and a boy who clung with his pal in the dark
when a summer storm rattled the windows
and the wind blew out the candle flame.
They awoke the next morning to find the world new
their fears forgotten under the dripping leaves of trees
and the ground fog on the unmown grass
as time bent back around the universe
and no worries as each new turn brought
a lightening sky in the east and a crescendo of birds
calling across the hills.
We dawdle now
as joggers pass us in florescent sweatpants and clouds of breath.
The dog investigating each bench and tree stump
and I simply standing, watching, bemused, reluctant to take any further
this epiphany spore which floats in the damp morning breeze
and lifts the dog’s fur.
For I know standing here watching
that if we ran together fast as we could when I was a boy
and the dog was a pup
and time bent back round again
that I would still never catch up with that life
which seems as real as the ground fog which I can almost touch
but then as the sun rises
disappears as if it were never there.
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