Saturday Poem: ‘A Way of Being’ by Barbara Guest

There we go in cars, did you guess we wore sandals?
Carrying the till, memorizing its numbers,
apt at the essential such as rearranging
languages. They occur from route to route
like savages who wear shells.
“I cannot place him.” Yet I do.
He must ascend indefinitely as airs
he must regard his image as plastic,
adhering to the easeful carpet that needs
footprints and cares for them
as is their wont in houses, the ones we pass by.
Such a day/or such a night
reeling from cabin to cabin
looking at the cakewalk or merely dancing.
These adventures in broad/or slim
lamplight,
                                     Yet the cars
do not cheat, even their colors perform in storm.
We never feel the scratch, they do.
When lightning strikes it’s safer to ride
on rubber going down a mountain,
safer than trees, or sand, more preventive
to be hid in a cloud we sing, remembering
The old manse and robins. One tear,
a salty one knowing we have escaped
the charm of being native. Even as your glance
through the windshield tells me you’ve seen
another mishap of nature
                                     you would willingly forget,
prefer to be like him near the hearth
where woodsmoke makes a screen of numbers and signs
where the bedstead it’s not so foreign as this lake.
                                     The plateau, excursionist,
is ahead. After that twenty volumes
of farmland. Then I must guide us
to the wood garage someone has whitened
where the light enters through one window
like a novel. You must peer at it
without weakening, without feeling
hero, or heroine,
                                     Understanding the distances
between characters, their wakeful
or sleep searchingness, as far from the twilight ring
the slow sunset, the quick dark.

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