Take Off; The Haunting

Alan Shapiro

Take Off

We didn’t fall out of love,
old love, we rose—we rose
as in a plane, as in the moment
when the wheels lift
and the whole craft
shudders against the gravity
it then forgets as
all at once the runway’s
fretful rushing by the window
slows and resolves to field
and tree line, the beaten
metal of a pond
the sun anneals;

we rose the way it all
grows clearer
as it diminishes till
a car drives in place
along a road that winds
and straightens, straightens to wind
again across a widening
landscape in which
nothing at all is moving
except the ever
smaller sharper
shadow of our
getting clear of it.

The Haunting

It may not be
the ghostly ballet
of our avoidances
that they’ll remember,
nor the long sulks
of those last months,
nor the voices
chilly with all
the anger we
were careful mostly
not to show
in front of them,
nor anything
at all that made
our choice to live
apart seem to us
both not only
but good, but just.

No, what I think
will haunt them is
precisely what
we’ve chosen to
forget: those too
infrequent (though
even toward
the end still
possible) moments
when, the children
upstairs, the dinner
cooking, one of us
would all at once
start humming an old
tune and we’d dance,
as if we did
so always, in
a swoon of gliding
all through the house,
across the kitchen,

down the hall
and back, we’d sway
together, we’d twirl,
we’d dip and cha-
cha and the children
would hear us and
be helpless not
to come running
down to burrow
in between us,
into the center
of the dance that now,
I think, will haunt them
for the very joy
itself, for joy
that was for them,
for all of us
together, something
better than joy,
and yet for you
and me, ourselves,
alone, apart,
still not enough.

Back to top ↑

Sign up for Our Email Newsletter