Friday, March 11, 2022

Sweet and Low

 The wind comes down from the hills, bitter cold;
it's not spring yet. There's another war, and people
are surprised. A folded-up Russian at the end of a long table
struggles not to grow old. He's surprised too. We're all surprised.

At night, I walk, and the glare of lights 
makes the sky illegible. Is that Jupiter? A plane? Is that
the wink of a satellite? God knows: so much in orbit above,
so much light below. The clouds glow softly, like 
the radium dial of a watch. I remember

the deep black skies of my boyhood. 
Long time ago now. 

My dad sings "Sweet and Low":
his doctors advised him that singing 
would strengthen his voice. It's a song from a songbook
already old when he was a boy: we're drifting backwards,
as old men do.

His voice wanders back and forth across the notes,
hitting some by accident. We used to sing in the car, 
driving home at night from a day on the mountain,
and I'd watch the snowflakes in the headlights:
they'd fall sleepily into view, and speed up
suddenly into white streaks that flickered away:
somewhere in the dark behind us 
they must have settled softly to rest.


K. Brobeck said...

"...we're drifting backwards,
as old men do."

I love that.

am said...

Thank you for this, Dale. Sweet and low. Something old that is new to me. And I'm remembering how the night sky used to be and was for time out of mind and still is in parts of the world and always will be. Always? Who knows?

Nimble said...

I've been learning some new songs and find it takes quite a bit for me to memorize the words and melody to do without a cheat sheet. I sang to my kids when they were little but then I stopped. I need more singing to carry on for lordsakes.