By Andy Mitchell
Alone in the H’s
for Jim Harrison
I haven’t climbed a tree in quite a while.
That’s what I told the cable guy
after coming down from our magnolia, having
climbed it in order to help him
untangle a new wire running through it.
I surprised myself how adept I was,
how nimble. And yet I wasn’t really taken aback
by my feat. I don’t think of myself as middle-aged.
What truly surprised me was that
I didn’t want to come down from the tree
once I was up there in it. All day
I’d been anxious to have wifi again.
Then I went outside to do some yard work
for the first time this year.
Breaking a sweat also for the first time,
I lost my desire for indoor endeavors.
All the while our laureate of the outdoors
had been dead for two days and I hadn’t
even realized. Somewhere out in the far Southwest
an adventurer-sage had run out of steam.
Half-Borges, half-Hemingway, his idea of paradise
was not a library (as it was for Jorge) but a clear
stream running through the desert.
For me an aisle of books is
a stream in the desert, the library an oasis.
Tomorrow you will find me there, alone in the H’s
cupping my hands in the cool water.
By Andy Mitchell
Walking home tonight
the magnolias are on parade,
for this the last day of March,
their color relieving
the otherwise bare branches
gray as the day.
Outside the First Presbyterian Church
three in a row stand proud
like sisters showing off
their Easter dresses.
Others stand out as well.
I wonder if the young woman
power walking notices them,
or the kid on his skateboard,
or the gray man stooped over a leash.
None of them seems to
but I probably don’t seem to either,
at least not until I pass a certain address
craning to see my childhood
climbing tree in the backyard
hidden by Mom’s house,
the one that used to be Dad’s house too.
They were married fifty-five years ago today.
Mom said it was a beautiful day.
Passing through the college and the park
I approach our new house, taking stock
of our own magnolia strewing petals in my path.