The last few gray sheets of snow are gone,
winter’s scraps and leavings lowered
to a common level. A sudden jolt
of weather pushed us outside, and now
this larger world once again belongs to us.
I stand at the edge of it, beside the house,
listening to the stream we haven’t heard
since fall, and I imagine one day thinking
back to this hour and blaming myself
for my worries, my foolishness, today’s choices
having become the accomplished
facts of change, accepted
or forgotten. The woods are a mangle
of lines, yet delicate, yet precise,
when I take the time to look closely.
If I’m not happy it must be my own fault.
At the edge of the lawn my wife
bends down to uncover a flower, then another.
The first splurge of crocuses.
And for a moment the sweep and shudder
of the wind seems indistinguishable
from the steady furl of water
just beyond her.
Years later they find themselves talking
about chances, moments when their lives
might have swerved off
for the smallest reason.
I hadn’t phoned, he says, that morning?
What if you’d been out,
as you were when I tried three times
the night before?
Then she tells him a secret.
She’d been there all evening, and she knew
he was the one calling, which was why
she hadn’t answered.
Because she felt—
because she was certain—her life would change
if she picked up the phone, said hello,
said, I was just thinking
I was afraid,
she tells him. And in the morning
I also knew it was you, but I just
answered the phone
the way anyone
answers a phone when it starts to ring,
not thinking you have a choice.
Lawrence Raab has published nine books of poetry: Mysteries of the Horizon, Doubleday, 1972; The Collector of Cold Weather, Ecco Press, 1976; Other Children, Carnegie-Mellon University Press, 1986; What We Don’t Know about Each Other, Penguin Books, 1993; (With Stephen Dunn) Winter at the Caspian Sea, Palanquin Press, 1999; The Probable World, Penguin Books, 2000; Visible Signs: New and Selected Poems, Penguin Poets, 2003; The History of Forgetting, Penguin Books, 2009; Mistaking Each Other for Ghosts, Tupelo Press, 2015.
His poems have been published in such periodicals as Poetry, Paris Review, Kayak, Shenandoah, Prairie Schooner, New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly, American Scholar and others.