Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, A SECOND TIME, by JAMES GALVIN



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A SECOND TIME, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: It was the year I cut logs for the new house and roads, roads like veins
Last Line: When they starved out and moved on, they burned their houses down to get the nails back
Subject(s): Mountains; Snow; Hills; Downs (Great Britain)


It was the year I cut logs for the new house and roads, roads like veins that
let the timber bleed. You wore a different shawl each day. It was the year I
shot the white mare, and her filly, equally white, refused to follow the herd to
winter pasture. It was the year you left me the first time, before the aspen
turned. Then it was the winter the sky couldn't get off the ground. East wind
went down the chimney and filled the house with smoke.

The new house consisted of sticks and strings and numbers on scraps of paper.
Facts are mercenary bastards. Spring was the fallacy that brought you back, but
nothing in the world could hold you. The last storm we hauled feed to the
snowbound horses. The white filly stood her ground apart. You fed that rowdy
gang instead, those bluejays, vainglorious thieves that loitered in the pines
behind the house. I wouldn't say you tamed them, but they flew down to you for
crumbs.

It took all June to haul foundation stone from the mountain, to screen enough
sand from the river for mortar. It was the year we cut hay between squalls, and
the aspen turned early, their self-elegy, and the evergreens I'd cut turned into
walls. You scolded the aspen outside your window for staying green when all the
rest were gold. Now that you're gone a second time I already know what it's
like. It snows inside. Jays swirl around the house like a blue shawl. Loud
and bright they follow me whenever I go out -- to the barn, the spring, even
into the patient woods.

It's been storming for a week. The quakies are bare except for the one by the
window, which is gold, in snow, and won't let go its leaves. The evergreens are
singed with frost so that each is delineated, individual, each in its own
doorway of ice. The new roof is half-finished. It snows inside. The early
settlers here made houses out of trees and tried to live. When they starved out
and moved on, they burned their houses down to get the nails back.


Used with the permission of Copper Canyon Press, P.O. Box 271, Port Townsend, WA
98368-0271, www.cc.press.org




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