Let’s say a long-time friend of a friend has
an Emmy in her living room. Her hair,
the welcome mat of decades, sheds its fuzz
like the smell of doobie, faint but everywhere.
Let’s say you really like this woman, and
that after several non-alcoholic beers
she’s back in the day with photos of the band.
Now here’s your friend, but minus forty years.
At twenty he’s embarrassingly young,
sprawled in a lawnchair, grinning, his first wife
adorable, a pretty child among
children. They’re high, or maybe high on life,
at the Winnipeg Folk Festival. Friends
like these accrue the usual dividends:
divorce, success, everyone knocked over
with a feather when that guy on the far left
became a periodontist. Your lover,
with losses of his own, is not bereft;
he goes on living in the here and now.
Time scalds him lightly as atomic mist.
Let’s say that this photo changes things somehow.
You can’t shake off the sober sense of past,
its shadow stretching backward from your feet,
the long bad hair of it, like sharp surprise
of waking up to chickadees and heat
when just before you opened up your eyes,
let’s say you dreamed of winter in the dawn,
your parka zipped and your galoshes on.
—from Rattle #37, Summer 2012
Rhoda Janzen was featured in conversation in this issue.