The Sensitive Girl

This is the fourth day I’ve been here.
But, no joke, there’s a spider
on this pane of glass
that’s been around even longer. It doesn’t
move, but I know it’s alive.

Fine with me that lights are coming on
in the valleys. It’s pretty here,
and quiet. Cattle are being driven home.
If I listen, I can hear cowbells
and then the slap-slap of the driver’s
stick. There’s haze
over these lumpy Swiss hills. Below the house,
a race of water through the alders.
Jets of water tossed up,
sweet and hopeful.

There was a time
I would’ve died for love.
No more. The center wouldn’t hold.
It collapsed. It gives off
no light. Its orbit
an orbit of weariness. But I worry
that time and wish I knew why.
Who wants to remember
when poverty and disgrace pushed
through the door, followed by a cop
to invest the scene
with horrible authority?
The latch was fastened, but
that never stopped anybody back then.
Hey, no one breathed in those days,
Ask her, if you don’t believe me!
Assuming you could find her and
make her talk. That girl who dreamed
and sang. Who sometimes hummed
when she made love. The sensitive girl.
The one who cracked.

I’m a grown man now, and then some.
So how much longer do I have?
How much longer for that spider?
Where will he go, two days into fall,
the leaves dropping?

The cattle have entered their pen.
The man with the stick raises his arm.
Then closes and fastens the gate.

I find myself, at last, in perfect silence.
Knowing the little that is left.
Knowing I have to love it.
Wanting to love it. For both our sake.

– Raymond Carver

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