658 Readings

Quiet Project

I have a quiet project
that begins once the car
points homeward. I turn down

the stereo, letting
the winds talk to me
over the strata of factory

stacks, over the underpass
squatters who flash
their tired faces when-

ever the Canadas fly. Into the gray
winter sky they cut their jagged Vs,
so gorgeous is their work

to reach the warmth
limned on the day’s horizon.
I scan the river bank

where the water crumbles
the dun-colored dirt, when the water
carries the city

reflected there no-
where, and that’s why
I think of houses,

the old ones busied with a dust
on the empty mantles.
The eye has a quiet project

that has everything
to do with joy and nothing
to do with cables. I think Westward,

flatboat, or purple mountains
soundlessly and just as fast.
The quiet is the kind gained

and lost in routine. A falling
out of love and in again,
a looking too much or too little. I lose

the quiet until the bridge’s cold blue
high blank curved steel
lifts the whole

heart-driven world—
or at least every last
one of us

who will listen—
up out of ear-
shot of the frozen river.

Posted 08/18/11
This poem originally appeared in the Spring 2011 issue of The National Poetry Review.
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