Dark Harbor

The afternoon my four-year-old took a purple crayon to pages 32 through 37 in my first edition of Mark Strand’s Dark Harbor, all I could do was prop a lawn chair in the yard and watch the traffic pass, watch the neighborhood sparrows enter and exit the neighborhood trees, and stare up at the sky wandering between clouds

until something at first unurgent and almost weightless, then heavy and irrepressibly sad crashed along a coast inside—not for the ruined book, personalized the year before Strand fell ill, but for “the tedious enactment of duration” and the “ultimate stillness”

Nothing But a Few Bare Trees

They were nothing but a few bare trees
warped in the north shore’s gauzy light,
nothing but a few stripped hickories

or oaks thinned out by blight, their low
limbs crusted in snow, yet something
in the way they stood apart and out

from others in that wood across acres
of ice, something about their fixture there,
under a hard white sky, caught and held

the eye. One of the elders mentioned
crosses on a holy hill, and someone quick
to counter spoke of totems carved in