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The Near Places, Late Autumn

Half awake to morning moon, I imagine rising

above the roof to look at the yard -

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the leafless birches we planted years ago

turned pewter. Reflection silhouettes

our grown children's photographs,

your face taking form in dim blue

like a slow-developed negative.

The maze of dreams that ravel into waking

seem less grave as slowly comes the echo

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of roofing noises gone on all week:

shingle by shingle you've laid a pale new covering

that must be gleaming now in the quiet.

The knock and flutter of a bird caught

in the chimney of the wood stove comes back...

how we lured it down to the cold firepit with a flashlight

in a paper bag, but it flew into the room instead,

hit against windows and walls, our grandchild

crying below the feathered charcoal smudges.

When finally it slowed and your large hands

closed around it, opened at a doorway

like wings streaked with soot to let it go,

the song in the silence that covered us

was like some new knowledge of home

the earthbound take from flight.

What wakes me finally before I know

I've slept, are the finishing strokes above,

your rising beyond my awareness,

the ordinary completeness

of a roof overhead.

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