I’d gone missing from myself, is what I meant to say.
Or meant to believe. Before I got distracted thinking
how different everything looks when it’s covered in snow.
A train drives by the cabin where I’m staying—a cloud
of birds flees the dead tree in which they slept.
Voices carry from the distance of a different life. As if
they’re drifting between yesterday and tomorrow or toward
the depths of the self that conjures each love’s lost minutiae:
standing by the Seine in silence and resting one’s head
on another’s shoulder or falling asleep in a field while
the other sketches a grist of bees before waking up to find
some part of this mysteriously gone.
And then one of them
says is that all that was? into the deepening hollow divide
between what’s real and what one says is real. As if
there were a way to know. Water boils inside the refuge
I’ve built, looking back a moment before the steam fades off
to cool air—is that what that was? is this all there is?
Eric Stiefel is a poet living in St. Louis, Missouri, where he currently serves as fellow in poetry at Washington University in St. Louis.