When I think of debts (other than those to family), I think first of libraries and librarians – God bless them every one. A college professor for more than 30 years, I taught first at Oregon State and since 1992 at Linfield College. Five books of poems carry my name on their spines, including an Oregon Book Award winner (1989) and the most recent two from Jessie Lendennie’s Salmon Poetry, which, delightfully, has a mailing address without a single number in it.
First Night in Winchester
Brown to Asian to rose to velvet black
generous with promise
a human face makes beauty all its colors –
we know this and forget.
Jet-lagged, I am watching television, watching
eyes weep as police cordon off a square.
To get from there to here requires
a level of prosperity.
The bomber sees in the mirror no one himself.
And so half a day arrived
in this foreign-to-me ancient English place,
long after dim gone dark,
the rung hollows of fourteen cathedral bells
sound through cloud-scudded night:
sequence and repeat, again please, that
rhythm jumbled, again please.
What brain and art first made a sounding bell –
at this I wonder and praise,
as human fingers and palms unseen
grasp ropes, and use as asked
the body’s water, breath, muscle, bone
and brain and weight. They practice,
that ears anonymous to them might know
cascade and harmony.
In January’s dark, a summer hour:
they practice light –
they practice to make happiness.
©2015 Lex Runciman