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Doug Anderson: Be Whole Again Beyond Confusion


I break into the old farmhouse and wander the rooms.

There, pencil marks on the kitchen door

where children’s heights were measured, ending at six feet.

Upstairs, a missing bureau left marks in the floor

and a missing picture frame an unfaded square.

From the bedroom window I see barns out back,

bales of hay softening into lumps on an abandoned rick.

I go outside, push open a swollen door

and find an old truck covered in yellow dust,

the perfect, rustless body a collector’s dream.

I think if I give it a gallon of gas it will start right up.

And suddenly the place is lit with energy,

needles of sun come through cracks in the louvered walls.

I think I hear a tractor start up outside

and a woman’s voice calling from the house.

Down the road and over the hill

I find an old rosewood barn and begin to photograph it.

A voice behind me says, “Don’t go inside.”

I tell him I won’t. “They don’t build them

like this anymore,” I say. “Ya can’t,” he says.

And in his silence I read the expense of the wood,

the careful love of maybe fifteen neighbors’ hands.

No prefab this, nor in his face.

Am I sentimental? About to bore the young

with how things used to be?

Well, I am old. And afraid. And I don’t like

the world I see growing around me,

all the aluminum siding empty as an oilman’s soul.

Further on, I step over a fence

with a no trespassing sign, to photograph

another house. The door hangs from

a single hinge as if to beckon me.

Someone, some kids, have left beer cans,

cigarettes, and a melted candle on the floor.

I feel the room go dark as the late sun

moves behind a cloud. I have to go now,

go home and have some dinner.

By myself. Divorced, I’ve outlived my family,

and, my God, three lovers. How often

I’ve wanted to pick up the phone and call someone

who owns a shard of memory that would help

it all make sense, and then remember they’re dead.

I survived a war and then enjoyed life in a time

where we seemed, as a species, to briefly change

for the better, a continuation of a dream

that began with the end of the Depression.

Hope was a real word, a little bright island in time,

now gone and the accomplishments of those years

being reversed by greed and a meanness

I didn’t think would come again.

Now, again, only a few have all the money,

scheming, stealing, trying to reverse

the course of history to achieve starvation

for the greater good. This is not nostalgia,

no, not merely a repetition of the sentiments

that come to all with age, no,

there is something deeply wrong

and the coldness of space invites us to disintegrate

out there with all the other planets

collapsed in on themselves.

How frail our posturing in this great silence.

There’s no wall at the end of the universe.

It circles back on itself and time becomes a stream

that cleans itself of the sewage of the ugly spirit.

Here there is no turn in the psalm,

where a remembrance of God lifts the spirit.

The Jesus of the Gospels managed it even with

the spikes driven through his hands and feet.

Could he possibly have believed that God

was there: Do not be far from me,

for trouble is near and there is no one to help.

No, he was right at the beginning: Thou has forsaken me.

*Title from Robert Frost’s Directive.

Poem and photograph copyright 2022 by Doug Anderson. All rights reserved.

Doug Anderson‘s books include Undress, She Said to be published by Four Way Books in 2022. He lives in Massachusetts.

4 comments on “Doug Anderson: Be Whole Again Beyond Confusion

  1. Deborah DeNicola
    May 23, 2022

    Doug’s poem has a quiet voice, barely withheld grief and bewilderment. Such smooth and straight sentences, some surrendering still struggling with the questions of belief and faith. it’s really stunning.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lisa Zimmerman
    May 22, 2022

    “Hope was a real word, a little bright island in time” 💔

    Liked by 1 person

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