Mennonite Poetry Home | Leonard Neufeldt



"A Mere Morning Walk”

They say they have everything to do with us,
these unlucky ghostings.
“The OFF button, please!” My wife and I
zip up and step outside behind our masks
onto the morning’s stage
with what life-belittling has left us
besides our feigned indifference of fear.
Yesterday the street an unswept
vacancy tracking a stranger
looking back, an ongoing watch as if
the emptiness might overtake him,
and then the bat jetting through
our open door, its wall-to-wall careening
like a spirit desperate to be found

Hand on each other’s shoulder curve,
a morning rite, we frown as usual
at our neighbour’s unsettlement
of molehill-freckled lawn,
daze of dandelion pom-pons, loops
of wild blackberry briars overeager
to strangle the posted No Trespassing sign
and reach into his house, which,
he’d promised us, would go down with him.
But here, between the postal box and
inching hum of bees in the red valerian sprawl,
a newer sign with altered face,
a diagonal overscript of Sale Pending

No one can tell we’re smiling past
surprise and past the crosswalk to people
gathered in twos to reason the slight mark
of a rear-end impact through inference
from foreknowledge and after, not
drawing themselves in at our approach,
and we not juddering them to the curb
with our own aging balance
as if flesh above all is to be avoided

Stopping to measure the moment
with a half-hidden embarrassment
of curiosity can be a way of greeting among
the least of us disguised as routine
walkers “going onward the same”* ̶ 
you and I nothing more than life-long
lovers now hand-in-hand nodding departure
and once again reconciling length
and pace of stride through mixed housing
even as a dog who has not learned the art
of separation seeks to befriend us
almost all the way to the end of the road
at the cliff’s overlook
of sea and the glacier-hooded slopes
of Mount Tahoma steadfast to a fault

How strange to get so near each time
to the warning No One Beyond This Point.
The elements of morning
here are composed, not traces
from the dawn of life, merely a kind
of writing over the earth’s molten core,
tracing the latest edgy moves
of the Pacific plate, updating
a continent, a volcano’s slumber
and an ocean’s vast leftover restraint.
Small waves ride their calm to the shore
beyond the handrail, sure as this rock face
high above a wavering and plunging
of seabirds, their sudden wheeling
past gravity, their tenuous shadows
scattered by the surface

There are sudden moments like this
in stories not leaving things out,
moments barely distinguishable
from secret folds of faith. Far off
at the sky’s faint edge of no return
a cloud floats out of itself

* From Thomas Hardy’s “In Time of
‘The Breaking of Nations’”




      Copyright © Elmer G. Wiens:   EgwaldTM Web Services       All Rights Reserved.    Inquiries