He sat at the desk across from his reflection
watching him where it hung above the mantel

and studied the hand there writing what he wrote,
something about the ocean in midsummer

when he was a child, the glint, the flecks of spume
tossed up where breakers thundered on the rocks;

the truth was a sentence they composed together
for no one else but the quiet of the house:

the tide he dreamt and the one he could remember,
subject and verb and the sun-touched swells they made

of the past itself now blended with invention,
his left hand moving the right hand in the mirror

and time a distance in the room between them
spread out there like a childhood shore where waves

broke on the sand and retreated to the green sea.

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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 38 Number 1, on page 29
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