A Walk in the Spring with My Dog by Eleanor Lerman

A Walk in the Spring with My Dog

Well yes, it takes medicine now and will, plus
the kind of footgear that a wild child
just down from the barricades would expect
to anchor the costume of an elder
An old party, new to the game

which apparently begins now: as others
gather to march, we are stepping off
into the winds of tomorrow. The trees
part like a gate for The Dog Who Believes
That She Will Live Forever. Green grass,
yellow flowers, silver-running creeks:
all that, again and again, year after year
Why should it be otherwise?

Why? Because the winds have invaded
my house, so there is no turning back
The cups and saucers have been put away
The bed has fallen through the floor
Now, only the dreams of the dog know how
to clean the rooms. Only the dreams of
the dog filter down through the sunlight

and reveal the way. Now is the time of
lonely steps: human time, but with
an animal’s seeing eye. Thus, the
days arrive like letters in the wind

and open themselves fearlessly
while we wait to breathe

by Eleanor Lerman

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Editor’s Note: The imagery in this poem pulls the reader into aging with the narrator, and the dog that understands nothing of time. This dichotomy gives the final two lines extra meaning.

From the archives – Stars Fall, Doors Open by Eleanor Lerman

Stars Fall, Doors Open

Spring, summer. Oh come again
Lay wide open the bright new world
then close it up with flowers
if only for one more season
Why not? I have lived long enough to be
sentimental. To be permitted to awaken

in June, rested, ready, alive. Oh come again:
days when the sun lives like a friend and
there is always more. See the door that has

been left open to the house on the path by
the river: yes, there is always more. I remember
it so and I demand that it be returned to me

Though of course, somewhere beyond the sky
a force to be reckoned with clocks in
and reads the notes that were left behind

An eyebrow is raised, a finger is lifted,
which puts into play unimaginable forces
I imagine them anyway. Night falls, stars fall

This is all real now and I know it
Make time stop is not one of the spells
that has been cast upon me but others have

I will open my book now and I
will read them. Stars fall. Doors open
Away, away

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, March 17, 2016 — by Eleanor Lerman

photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

Stars Fall, Doors Open by Eleanor Lerman

Stars Fall, Doors Open

Spring, summer. Oh come again
Lay wide open the bright new world
then close it up with flowers
if only for one more season
Why not? I have lived long enough to be
sentimental. To be permitted to awaken

in June, rested, ready, alive. Oh come again:
days when the sun lives like a friend and
there is always more. See the door that has

been left open to the house on the path by
the river: yes, there is always more. I remember
it so and I demand that it be returned to me

Though of course, somewhere beyond the sky
a force to be reckoned with clocks in
and reads the notes that were left behind

An eyebrow is raised, a finger is lifted,
which puts into play unimaginable forces
I imagine them anyway. Night falls, stars fall

This is all real now and I know it
Make time stop is not one of the spells
that has been cast upon me but others have

I will open my book now and I
will read them. Stars fall. Doors open
Away, away

by Eleanor Lerman

Eleanor on Facebook

Editor’s Note: In this poem, random punctuation and imagery create a sense of stream-of-consciousness—thoughts move into and out of the narrator’s mind, yet still coalesce into a coherent conclusion. Doors open. Stars fall.

To Live in This World Requires by Eleanor Lerman

To Live in This World Requires

To live in this world requires
that you leave your house every morning
and step into the wind
Every morning: with all your memories
on file and the future pinned to some wall
you will have to build and tear down and
build again. If you get there. If. If.

Into the wind: first you walk the dog whose
happy face belies the beast it is built on
Millennia behind you, that beast enters a cave
and decides whether or not to kill a child sleeping
by a fire. It does not kill the child
because it has been surprised by love
Both softened and sharpened by it, inexplicably
Inexplicably, to this day

And on this day, the wind relents
The morning star lifts itself into a changeable sky
and you, carrying extra weight, wearing
last year’s clothes, start walking towards the train
Seeds that grew from ancient science digest in your stomach;
your bones begin to separate because science did not plan
this length of life; your heart slows down and you feel
the pressure of dragging a million, billion years
behind you. A million, billion lie ahead that you
will know nothing about

Thus, harnessed to time, facing the inevitable,
constructed by science and fed on inexplicable events
taking place somewhere in the middle of history,
your day goes by. Miles away, the ocean
murmurs to its own beloved creatures, a mountain
applies pressure to the weaving of a golden seam
And in your house, the dog wonders
if you will make it home again. And each day,
despite or because the performance of this feat
is both a mystery and a triumph,
you will. You do

by Eleanor Lerman

Editor’s Note: Life is difficult. But it is also “a mystery and a triumph,” as this beautiful poem shows.

The Land of Heaven by Eleanor Lerman

The Land of Heaven

This is where I want to be: the forgotten bar
in an upstate town on a chilly day. Music banging
in the rafters. Cold fields outside, a pickup
at the curb. Ice in the creek beds, steel in
the sky—and snow. Snow that will clamp down
on the house and freeze the pipes if we
don’t get back. Someone is making dinner
Someone turns on the radio. Someone volunteers
to crawl under the house with a blowtorch and
save the water main if the dog will stand guard
The dog is happy to go anywhere. Just put on
his snappy coat and he’s out the door

So in their name, Love—the bar, the winter,
the dog, the beloved house—I do renounce you
I renounce thee. Go play dress-up in the dance halls
with the pretty boys. Go mock the children
Lie to them. In fact, go paint the centuries with
your lies because I get you now: your jewelry,
your stories, your beating heart fading into
dusky incandescence. An evening memory:
that’s all you are. I banish you. Go away

Or not. Not entirely. Still, better at this age
to travel light. Two hundred miles and the road climbs
into the heavenly land of gorges and granite
As many rumors of lake monsters as abandoned mills
Mills to grind our ghosts into new seasons. Mills of time,
of memory. Mills that churn the stars into a great,
bright river that Love, you are not allowed to cross
I want to cross this river alone, in my own way

And now, is the meal ready? Then friends, it’s time
to go. At the bar, someone is changing a record
that’s been playing over and over again all afternoon,
by request. I’m hungry. I’m a little drunk
In the city, love is howling through the streets
The rest of us are in the land of heaven, laughing
as the wind begins to revise the landscape, sealing
the promise we made to drive each other home

by Eleanor Lerman

Editor’s Note: What is love? In this poem, the narrator explores what it means to be both alone and in love; to want love, and to scorn its messy baggage. The landscape imagery is allegory for the life that love inspires: promises, hills, and heaven.

A Cosmology Expands Around You by Eleanor Lerman

A Cosmology Expands Around You

Turning the page, you have the thoughts that would
come to anyone encountering that forgotten photograph
of an adventurous man in a canoe, with his daughters
They are on a north country river in a golden summer
Golden sunlight, golden girls

Oh well. Things change. Time passes. And then a sigh—
like a sigh in a an old painting, perhaps a pastoral—identifies
how the moment ends, how nostalgia enters and fades away
Oh well. We must go on. Oh yes indeed: mysteriously, if we
live on, even sadness passes. (“Can you believe he died a
decade ago? That nowadays the younger one can
barely remember how to get to the supermarket?)
Bear in mind, though, that nothing really replaces it,
that sadness. Never. Nothing at all

Instead, a cosmology expands around you
Yes, you heard right: the cosmos expands to embrace you
but don’t expect that you will know when this is happening:
you won’t be enlightened. Your back will still hurt
and your dog will not suddenly start speaking to you
When you fall asleep at night, your dreams will still be
confusing. Not prophetic. Quite the same

This is because “a cosmology” does not mean a revelation
or even an awareness of universal truths. After all, we cannot
bank on the idea that there are any.(Or that this is a
group effort, this life, these memories) Still, it is possible
that one or two individual constants will begin to
make themselves known to you when the time comes
No one in their right mind can predict when that will be

Though it can’t hurt to try. Start by lifting up your face
to your old friend, the moon, who has been watching you
The moon has a lot it wants to tell you: how it woke up
all alone in a cave before there was fire. How it marveled
when an unseen hand created the ox and lamb.
(That’s correct: even the moon has no idea how life began)

And how it wept when it saw the pyramids. How it weeps still
How nowadays, to relieve a little tension, it sometimes likes to
dress like a golden-hearted boy and wander down the
city boulevards, going nowhere special. In other words,
the moon itself is surprised by what it sees and what it does
By how afraid it is, at dawn, to close its eyes

So rehearse this phrase: I don’t know what’s going on
but maybe I’m not supposed to. Then, come summertime
again—and yes, don’t worry, in the way we talk about
what happens, it always comes again—there will be
another river. And an adventurous girl will smile and smile
when the moon leans out of its side of this story, out of
the nighttime into the expanding light and waves to you
It waves good-bye, good-bye

by Eleanor Lerman

Editor’s Note: When grief arrives, it leaves one feeling just a bit off-balance. This poem’s inconsistent punctuation takes a clean narrative voice and upends clarity. Everything seems to make sense, but it no longer fits quite right, either. Sorrow feels like this… until it doesn’t.