— after the banquet dinner, Snow bowl resort, Bread Loaf, VT
The look on your face when you were right
was the opposite of how a dog looks
when a ball might have been thrown
or might not have,
the thrower either holding it,
cupped secretly behind her back
or standing open palmed or pointing
to where the ball has disappeared deep under the couch,
the dog unsure anyone could understand
this or any other frustration. Do you remember
how absolutely sure you were, how absolutely correct?
You and I had eaten dinner with L—who was working
on a project about his mother’s time in the comfort unit
of the U.S. army, which would travel behind the front,
passing out donuts
to terrified soldiers. When she returned to New York,
no one believed her stories, and I agreed with him.
I hadn’t heard of women in that war.
I told L— that my grandfather had been a bombardier,
maybe flown over his mother,
and he asked if my grandfather had been a good grandfather,
and I said yes, the best, he had the greatest imagination,
and he was a bear, which made him safe
but also being a bear made him a terrible father,
war makes some things skip.
Outside, our friend said the cicadas were singing.
Outside, he said, come listen. What we heard
weren’t cicadas, you said, they were peepers,
and it was their small voices that made the music
pulse from the mountains,
landing around the small lake in that moist, bug-ridden night.
From somewhere darker came a deep accent like someone
clearing their throat, a bullfrog wanting his voice known, too.
I am here, I am here. We went to the boundary
of lake and field and kneeled.
Everyone wanted to be right, but you were sure, insistent,
Peepers. As if for the first time we listened,
as if for the first time I was sure it mattered.
Where the mountain flattened out,
the trees thinned,
where the water from the pond wet the grass,
when the night grew dark, those of us who could,
let the greens deepen around us.