At first I thought the past
must have alighted on my wrist,
and it was neither owl nor moth,
but word misread.
It pointed me my path.

We passed a faery forest.
Trees dipped overnight in mist
and sugared with a thin fur of frost
held masses of lacy twigwork up
to the sun. The snow cover, further on,
was like a threadbare cotton blanket
thrown down over the fields—it showed
the contours of the ground beneath,
furrow and stone, with tufts of grass
and weedstalk poking through.
The book lay open in my lap.

Later, two dogs stood far apart,
lonely and wagging on a snow field,
and for a long fast stretch
the train-whistle wailed a blues chord,
inverted sixth.

I thought I heard it blast
that misread word,

the Past   the Past   the Past

This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 29 Number 5, on page 37
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