Conversation at the Prescribed Distance
Between us dog on leash and air enough to make space enough
measured and unmeasurable until we look up and trace
the blue curve that cradles us all so thin a line between
this morning and nothing; between us the exhalation
of this greybeard sycamore leaning out over Dutchman Creek
and our breath it so willingly draws into itself, who cares
about droplets and particles; how long since we two last walked
mossed stones three strides between us spotting old landmarks planting new ones
what the weather carries away and what it leaves
what the years carry no matter the weight; we laugh for a minute
about our crazy yard sign neighbor always punching always angry
what is he so afraid of? until all that fear turned inside out
stops our voices, asking ourselves can something so darken a heart
that it may give up even caring about caring?
You and I unspoken those years of darkness between us speaking now
peeling apart that old anger, its separate parts the way it separates:
we peer into it and watch it lift its heavy branches, shake itself loose;
maybe we are only here this morning because there are years between us
and around us (and not all that many left ahead of us), maybe today we’ll discover
a little something more and tell it and we two become a little less afraid.
Bill Griffin MD is a family physician (retired) in rural North Carolina.
Bill’s poems have appeared in JAMA, NC Literary Review, Southern Poetry Review, etc. His collection Crossing the River spans his 40 years in small town practice.