Wise Poets – Stephen Dunn – And So

Stephen Dunn (June 24, 1939 – June 24, 2021)

And so you call your best friend
who’s away, just to hear his voice,
but forget his recording concludes
with “Have a nice day.”

“Thank you, but I have other plans,”
you’re always tempted to respond,
as an old lady once did, the clerk
in the liquor store unable to laugh.

Always tempted,what a sad
combination of words. And so
you take a walk into the neighborhood,
where the rhododendrons are out
and also some yellow things

and the lilacs remind you of a song
by Nina Simone. “Where’s my love?”
is its refrain. Up near Gravel Hill
two fidgety deer cross the road,
whitetails, exactly where

the week before a red fox
made a more confident dash.
Now and then the world rewards,
and so you make your way back

past the careful lawns, the drowsy backyards,
knowing the soul on its own
is helpless, asleep in the hollows
of its rigging, waiting to be stirred.

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