The Life I Am Living  
Roger Mitchell
From A Clear Space on a Cold Day
It is a wild, rank place, and there is no flattery in it.

—Thoreau

Walking home alone at night,
I see myself as always walking
home alone at night.  The wind
walks a cloud across the sky
on a light leash.  The moon trembles.
A light goes on somewhere across
a street or yard.  I am going
home, the place I left in haste
an hour ago.  I couldn't wait
to leave.  I was home alone,
and everything was home alone,
the windows, the plates, the things I knew.
The things I knew were there, always,
so I went out and the warm spring
evening that lay between the room
I went to and the house I left
put its arm across my shoulder.
There, it said, smiling.  There, there.
Spring would not be unkind,
though I had heard it said, often.
I heard voices, mothers calling
into the dusk, children, muffled,
calling back.  They would go home,
this time, and maybe the next,
but they were crouched next to the bush,
whispering: Wait, wait for me here.
I would go home, too, though to what,
I was not sure.  Maybe the plates
or the spoons or the steep stairs.
But first I would walk through the trees
to a windowless room high on a hill,
high as the trees, which look that way
because branches, they say,
must not touch one another.
The wind thinks otherwise.
I think otherwise, too.  I think
this is not my life, this mulling.
This is not me, not what I meant
when I said it is a wild, rank place.
I look in the lighted windows.
I listen to the sparkling gab
everywhere, the chatter and drone.
I turn it down like a radio
late at night.  I keep it by me.
That is me talking of stars.
That is me taking the world by the hand
and leaving.  I shall sit by the sea
and read.  I shall look in the book
as I would a window, passed at dusk
hoping to find there the life,
the one I am living.