Everyone else slept and we
were skinny-dipping in my mother’s pool
when the moon rose and birds
sang for high summer in a valley oak
whose seedling I mowed carefully around
twenty years ago.
Back in Berkeley the next day
light from the water where we troubled it
still glanced back from the leaves, a look
of recognition on each changing face,
and the tart fume of just-cut grass that lifted
from the park recalled
that morning’s cool persuasions,
dew clinging in the brazen glare of noon.
It was as if that shore
where all forgotten things will find their lasting
home was never lost or touched by need
but day by day was spared
for our return —as though, downtown
where a half block of stores burned to the ground
last month, the damp of ashes still
inhabiting the air (full and rough
feathered at the back of my tongue) coaxed
a thirst for nothing
but the thin creek barely
moving in the shadows under a bridge.
Sheltering there, watching
sunlight slice down between the planks to rule
sharp lines across the stream and mark its passage,
I forget the time.