by Chris Anderson
When I lived for a month in a hut by the sea,
my little red dog ran away back home.
I was walking in a cemetery on a hill, looking
at the gravestones, and the thought crossed
my mind: Lucy has run away. And she had,
I found out, that very day, and she didn’t come
back for hours. It wasn’t an intuition exactly.
It was just a thought. But all those thirty days
I was more porous than usual, more aware
of all the signs that God sends us, or might,
and I often missed Lucy and thought about her.
I kept seeing her face in the faces of the deer
or the chipmunks or even the birds. I was
aware of how everything has a face. That
we have eyes and so do the animals, all of them.
We have ears and so do they. They kept me
company in that long, lonely month trying
to pray and sometimes feeling thinned out,
opened. Sunsets. Clouds coming and going.
Dreams. Once, touching the trunk of a tree.
Since then I’ve suffered several losses,
and it’s been a lot harder to stay on the path
and follow the call than I thought it would be.
Sometimes where we find ourselves
is in the desert. More and more I think
life is about letting things go, or trying to.
It’s about giving things up. It’s about holding
things in memory and believing in them still.
The night before I gave Lucy away,
I brushed her long red hair until it shone,
combing out the tangles. She leaned against me
as I worked and I kept hugging her and talking
to her. Oh Lucy, I kept saying. I have to.
In the morning, when she hopped into his car
and my friend drove her away, she looked
from the back like a beautiful young girl.
by Chris Anderson
Once by a pond I watched cedar waxwings
swoop and stall, snatching insects. I’d never seen
so many before in one place. Their dark masks.
Their yellow-dipped tails. Later, evening.
Once in a meadow I lost my silver rosary.
A small one with a clasp, the kind a girl might wear.
But it wasn’t hard to find, the way it glittered
later in the grass like a string of tiny pearls.
Once at a funeral an old man slowly rose
and belted out Stardust. Teary-eyed. Quavering.
Oh memories of love! The purple dust of twilight
steals across the meadows of our hearts!
I really wasn’t expecting this. But after a while
I realized how beautiful life is, and sad.
Nothing is ever lost.
It’s always just somewhere else.
Chris Anderson is a Professor of English at Oregon State University
and a Catholic deacon. He has published a number of books. His
second book of poems, Consolations, will be published next year by
Airlie Press, a new writers’ collective in the Willamette Valley.
On “Lucy” and “Stardust”:
“Stardust” is an example of the “leaping” poetry I like to
write, when one image will suggest another image and another
and I’m not exactly sure how they relate. Except they do
somehow. So it’s a quick, intuitive thing for me, though
“Stardust” then went through many, many revisions having to
do mostly with line and stanza breaks.
“Lucy” is an example of a poem in which I started out to
write a sustained, deliberate narrative, layering detail as I went.
I think the line and stanza length came pretty early. Then it was
a matter of just trying to say what I had to say about this
experience—a religious experience, a profound one—without
saying too much.
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Apple Valley Review:
A Journal of Contemporary
Volume 5, Number 2
Copyright © 2010
by Leah Browning, Editor.
All future rights to material
published in the Apple
Valley Review are retained
by the individual authors