A Roadside Near Ithaca By William Matthews

A Roadside Near Ithaca

Here we picked wild strawberries,
though in my memory we’re neither here
nor missing. Or I’d scuff out
by myself at dusk, proud
to be lonely. Now everything’s
in bloom along the road at once:
tansy mustard, sow thistle,
fescue, burdock, soapwort,
the mailbox-high day lilies,
splurges of chicory with thin,
ragged, sky-blue flowers.
Or they’re one blue the sky
can be, and always, not
varium et mutabile semper,
restless forever. In memory,
though memory eats its banks
like any river, you can carry
by constant revision
some loved thing: a stalk of mullein
shaped like a what’s-the-word-for
a tower of terraced bells, that’s it,
a carillon! A carillon ringing
its mute changes of pollen into a past
we must be about to enter,
the road’s so stained by the yellow
light (same yellow as the tiny
mullein flowers) we shared
when we were imminent.

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